When I became a parent, I expected stress. I expected absolutely all consuming love. I expected a challenge like no other. What I didn’t expect, though, was fear. Well, I expected a little bit. I didn’t expect it to be crippling, and I didn’t expect it to turn me into the kind of person who cries in the pub over something that was absolutely nothing, but could have been something.
A few days ago Amy, Eden and I were crossing the road. It had started to rain a few minutes before and was absolutely pouring, so we were headed for the pub for lunch. When the crossing light turned to green, we stepped out into the road. I say “we” stepped, but it was Amy and I who stepped out. Eden was in her buggy. It was at that moment that a car came speeding around a bus and headed right towards us at speed. We jumped back to the pavement whilst the car swerved out into the middle of the road in front of us. Had we been a foot further into the road, the driver would have had nowhere else to go and would have either hit us or gone straight into oncoming traffic.
I utterly lost my mind. Anger was my first emotion. I did not understand how somebody could speed in the rain and decide that red lights didn’t apply to her. Did I mention that there were kids in the car? Yeah. Apparently she had kids in the car. This was something Amy told me later. I was absolutely flummoxed that somebody would be so utterly careless whilst in charge of several tonnes of car. I know kids can be distracting, but if they’re that distracting going at speed in the rain, PULL OVER.
By the time we got into the pub I was shaking. It did not help that a couple of days before I’d read a story about two mums and their babies who were hit by a car in NYC. Every child in that situation died. I was very VERY aware that it could have been Eden. I was very aware that her buggy wouldn’t have protected her and that if that car had hit her, there would have been nothing I could have done to stop it. I absolutely sobbed. I still cry when I think about it. There’s a lot of “could have been” in that situation and every single scenario as as horrifying as the next.
I don’t know if it comes from recent terror attacks involving cars. I don’t know whether it comes from having taken 999 calls for three years and having heard what happens after a car hits a person. I don’t know if it comes from the crippling fear of leaving Eden that I guess comes from losing my own mother. I don’t know. What I do know is that I’ve become very aware since having Eden of how everything can change in an instant. Your world can turn upside down in a split second and there’s nothing you could have done.
It leaves you feeling utterly powerless and pretty much always on the edge of terrified.
Isn’t parenting a rollercoaster?