The day I (almost) lost my son

Joel almost died today.

Walking out of a shop he pegged it straight into the road in front of a bus.
It was the scariest moment of my life.

As soon as you become a Mum you're supposed to suddenly gain this 'Mother's instinct'. You start naturally putting your hand across table corners when children are walking past. You can see tiny objects that your child might eat from 4 miles away. You have an almost 'spider-like' sense as to what dangerous thing your child is about to do.

I have none of that.

I don't know what happened when I became a Mum but God decided not to bless me with that skill, which has meant that my children have both flourished in abilities and been in situations that most wouldn't deem 'safe'. Like right now, for instance, my children are stacking the weights that have been left out from a workout. It's fascinating watching them work out how to slide the weights on and secure them, but to most people, I probably should have moved them away by now and given them a more 'child appropriate' toy.

My children are very, very able. Give Annie a tree and she'll climb all the way to the top. Show Joel a hammer or spade and he'll happily start digging in the mud or knocking things together (or breaking them as seems to be the norm). Their ability means I can sometimes forget that they are still little kids, and they are still prone to messing around and doing things of their own accord that are dangerous. Like today. Joel had been walking sensibly with me for 20 minutes already, in and out of shops, crossing roads and down the pavement. For not one second did it occur to me that he might suddenly let go of the pushchair and run straight into traffic.

And that fills me with guilt. Thankfully he didn't get hurt and I didn't have to deal with comforting a driver who had just run over a child, but the idea that this could have been my last day with Joel fills me with all sorts of horrible feelings. Whilst Joel was the one who ran into the road, the responsibility lies with myself. I am the one who needs to look after him. I am the one who needs to be prepared for those instances. I am the one who needs to protect him and keep him safe.

So what should my reaction be? I could so easily decide, "That's it, he's never walking with me, he'll be in the pram until he's 3 because I never want that to happen again". It's a perfectly logical decision. It's not the one I'll be taking though. Tomorrow, we are going to walk around those shops, cross the road and walk down the pavement and we're going to keep practising it. We always talk about not letting our mistakes stop us from doing stuff, and we always talk about trying something until we master it, but somehow, whenever the end result could end really badly, we don't do it. I don't want to let this fear stop me from teaching him how to walk sensibly on a pavement.

I almost didn't post about this. It's quite a big thing to admit to isn't it? My lack of responsibility meant that my son almost died. That's a scary thought. But it happened and now we need to learn from it. The world doesn't end because we made a mistake. We all make hundreds of mistakes every day and the key is to keep learning from them, no matter how serious they may be. If your child falls off a bike do you never let him ride again? Of course not. Without meaning to sound blasé about it: life happens. Things go wrong, and you've got to pick yourself back up, shake yourself off and carry on. 

Being a Mum is a learning journey. Every day I discover something new about how to do this job. It's not easy, and it feels like it just gets harder, but I'm getting there, slowly. I'm probably going to keep making mistakes - though hopefully not like this again! For now, I'm going to hug my boy tightly, tell him how much I love him and then teach him how to do it right. Wish me luck!


  1. Wow, big thumbs up to u for posting this, your vulnerability is refreshing. This is what we face every day as parents, the fear that we aren’t doing enough, but all we can really do is keep going, doing the best we can do and hoping and praying that our kids turn out okay. God is certainly the one that keeps us safe. Similar thing happened with me at a car park. I let go of my 3 year old son to open the car door so I could lift him up n strap him in. I turned around n he had run into the road in from of an oncoming car. My husband actually gave me a look, like seriously? Why would u let him do that? This things happen, that’s life. Thanks for Posting this Holly.

    1. It's amazing how many people have told me that a similar thing has happened! Helps to ease the burden of guilt to know that we're not alone! X

  2. Yep! forgive yourself Darling. It happens to the best most diligent of us Mums. You're doing a great job! Not instilling fear into them. Must have been scary tho! Give yourself a treat now.

  3. Don't beat yourself up. Children sometimes move at superhuman speed for such little people and I'm not sure we can ever predict their movements to the split second. I've been a mum for 12 years and just last weekend a similar thing happened with my 7yr old. We were walking home from the older child's football match and the little one had his scooter. In letting him have a little freedom, you know, letting him go a little bit ahead but not too far that he can't hear you, he suddenly did a U turn on the pavement at speed and very close to the kerb just as a bus came by at speed. Needless to say I screamed at him until we were both in tears as he had scared me so much. Another inch and the ending may have been very different. But it wasn't and I am grateful. Grateful for the happy ending and grateful for his confidence and seeming fearlessness as channelled right those attributes may take him far in life. Being responsible for small humans is terrifying but immensely rewarding and you are doing amazing. Much love xx

  4. sending hugs. You are doing a brilliant job. The skills you are giving your children will stand them in good stead.


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