As we awoke to yet another horrific incident in the news, this one directed specifically at children, it’s raising a fear in me that is always there, usually dormant but rises to the surface whenever I hear of a bombing, or a pile up, a young adult murdered in Thailand, or an accident at a theme park. Always the same fear. How can I keep my children safe?
When they were inside me I ate the right things, I put my seat belt on correctly, I didn’t take risks, I literally kept them in a safe cocoon, and then once they were out, I was with them all the time. I took them with me around the house, where I went they did, I put them in special seats, drove carefully, I was there to keep them safe.
And now they are older and they are becoming more and more independent from me by the day and I have to entrust others to keep them safe, and at the moment, I can do that, I know that their teachers are there, that there is security to prevent harm coming from them. We live in a safe area. But what will I do in future?
I refuse to live my life in fear and yet I am always so aware. I realise that these things are news because they are unusual, unforeseen, are unpredictable, but how am I going to take steps to allow my children the freedom that they need to become adults in the future with all these terrible things happening in the world?
A theme park trip will always have the thought in the back of my mind that something could happen, I will be very very worried about them going to popular event where huge numbers of people gather, when, (and I say when because I know the desire to travel is as strong in them as it is in me), when they announce their plans to go travelling I will worry from the minute they leave to the minute they return.
They are not 100% safe whenever they leave this house and I have to accept it and not allow it to change the way we live. It is so hard but any day could be your last and so it is so important that you have really lived. In the aftermath of any incident like the one in Manchester last night, people always say, be strong, don’t change the way you do things, don’t let the people trying to make you live in fear win. But oh it is hard to do that.
I know that I will battle always with my desire to keep my darling babies safe, that I will worry about accidents, about illness, about travel, but I also know that I feel just as strongly that I want them to experience life. Free from worry, free from care. I won’t tell them all the awful things that could happen to them. I will try and shelter them from news stories while they are young.
Instead I shall try to teach them to be sensible. To stop a drunken friend from driving. To know first aid. To not take the dark alley home. Not to get separated from friends on holiday.
And for everything else that isn’t predictable? I shall try my very best to put it out of my mind. I’ve shed more then a few tears today at the thought of this atrocity in particular, but also for all the parents that have not been able to keep their babies safe. The following quote seems particularly poignant today.
“Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ” – Elizabeth Stone
I feel so so sorry for everyone that lost their hearts last night. I’m sure there will be so many people wishing they had never let their child go, and as easy as it is for me to say, sitting at my desk with both children safe, they were letting them live. They were letting them have an experience that they probably dreamed about for months, talked about for weeks, planned out excitedly with friends, the highlight of their year because that’s what being a parent is, enabling your children to enjoy their lives.
The hardest part of raising children is letting them go but something that we all have to do at some point. My thoughts are with all the families affected and the amazing emergency services, volunteers and everyone involved.