Confessions of a neurotic mother

Blog1 My name is Sally and I’m a neurotic parent. There, I’ve said it.

I torture myself on a daily basis imagining the many ways my child could die or maim herself. Not for fun – I just can’t help it.

Flea will be playing happily in her bedroom and I’ll find myself wondering what would happen if she climbed on the wardrobe and it fell on her? (it can’t, the wardrobe is fixed to the wall, but logic is no comfort to a woman in my position).

Or Flea might be scampering around the garden and I’ll wonder what would happen if she somehow opened the locked garage door, climbed on a chair and drank paint stripper – after opening the child-resistant lid, obviously.

My major paranoia is choking. Flea had a horrible choking habit as a baby, and I’ve had to tip her upside down and whack her more times than I care to remember. For medical purposes only, obviously.

I’ve taken sensible precautions. I have done two paediatric first aid courses, and I keep the instructions for helping a choking child taped to the fridge, where I see them every time I make a coffee. I’ve never met a grape I didn’t slice length-ways. Also, I've explained to Flea about the importance of small bites, chewing carefully and never eating while you're playing.

Still, I watch over Flea so carefully when she eats that she started to roll her eyes and say “I’m ONLY COUGHING” before she turned two. I just can't help but feel she’s somehow dicing with death if someone gives her a slice of apple that has skin on it.

At work today, I read a government report into accidents – how they happen, where they happen, how serious they are. You’d think the report would cheer me up. It’s full of actual facts about how unlikely these sorts of accidents are. For example, the risk of a child choking to death before their fourth birthday is only around 3 per million, while the risk of a fatal fall down a flight of stairs or from a window is actually less than one in a million. 

Good, right?

Except, did you know 900 children aged 0-4 are injured in falls from ladders EVERY YEAR? This, friends, is an injury I’d never even thought to worry about before. Although you’ve got to wonder, why would a toddler be up a ladder in the first place?

Then there’s the 1,800 children aged 0-4 who require treatment after falling over a toy in their own lounge. Who knew the lounge was such a danger zone? Or the 800 children who require treatment for poisoning each year – after eating cosmetics. God, there are so many potential things I never even knew I could obsess about, completely irrationally. 

Anyway, must dash – I need to make sure the ladders are padlocked together. Just in case.


Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.

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  1. Sally
    29th July 2009 / 9:43 am

    See? You’re such a devoted mother. Me? It’s because I’m too lazy to get up the 10 minutes earlier that make-up would require.

  2. Just a Mum
    29th July 2009 / 10:21 am

    Oh my God, that is so funny! I’m exactly the same, I just can’t help imagining “well what if that fell over, or that collapsed, or they fell down that hole” Glad it’s not just me!

  3. 29th July 2009 / 12:07 pm

    I do the same thing. But I do try (and fail miserably) not to let my kids notice. When my twenty month old daughter goes to play outside, she comes to tell me first that yes, she will be playing with a spoon, but no she won’t really be putting it in her mouth, she’ll just be pretending. Failing miserably.

  4. 29th July 2009 / 2:25 pm

    I can totally understand.Actually, now that I’ve read about it I’ll be thinking about the possible dangers to my own daughter during the day.

  5. Sally
    29th July 2009 / 6:58 pm

    @Just a Mum – ooh, don’t get me started on ‘falling down holes’. I live in dread of those weird drains and suchlike that suck kids in.
    @Mwa – oh dear, that made me laugh, though! I like how our kids just tolerate us, though.
    @Cecilia – NO! Don’t say I just turned you from normal to neurotic through my blog!

  6. 29th July 2009 / 7:47 pm

    No no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no too many new worries!

  7. 29th July 2009 / 8:29 pm

    My pet worry is when they run around on the hardwood floors in socks. ‘You’ll crack your head open and end up in hospital,’ I admonish. (‘Cos I’m fun like that.)
    Which was sufficient deterrent until my nephew slipped on a stone floor while wearing just socks. He broke his arm. Or ‘only’ broke his arm as my boys remind me. Cannot stop them now.

  8. Amanda
    29th July 2009 / 8:39 pm

    I’m the total and utter complete opposite of you. I’m the carefree mum who gives whole apples (with peel on) to an under one… Or talking of grapes, laughs when Isabel (1.5) shoves 8 whole grapes in her mouth at once. She’s done this with sweets too… this, I am a little watchful of…
    I’m now concerned I’m the only one to have replied who isn’t a paranoid mummy! Whoops. Hehe.
    Also… can’t believe you’ve put this in your “Bad Mother Moments” category!!! This should be in with the “Wonderful, Loving & Caring Mother Moments”…

  9. Sally
    29th July 2009 / 8:49 pm

    @Amanda – it’s funny because in some respects I absolutely believe in a bit of healthy neglect – I’ll generally let Flea run around on hard surfaces or climb small trees or roll down hills because I figure if she gets bumps or bruises, she’ll learn something from it – if only “don’t roll down hills if there’s a concrete pathway at the bottom”
    It’s the freak accidents I live in total dread of. And I know it’s irrational and probably going to cause Flea to be completely neurotic – hence “bad mother” category!
    I really wish I could be less paranoid. Maybe I should have another one, because I think its Mums and their first kids who fall into this category the most…

  10. 29th July 2009 / 10:27 pm

    Love this!
    I’m a closet neurotic myself. Outwardly care-free, embracing supervised danger (my speciality). I’m the mom with the baby with a big bruise on his head eating crayons.
    And yet at the same time a secret small voice screams at me constantly that the noise I just heard upstairs through the baby monitor was almost certainly a bird finding it’s way through a closed window to land on the book shelf near Kai’s cot causing it to catapult ‘The Very Hungry Caterpiller’ onto his small delicate head…
    I just fight it. Very very hard.

  11. Sally
    29th July 2009 / 10:57 pm

    I too have the small, secret voice despite outward protestations of “acceptable risk” and “learning through doing”.
    I sometimes think it’s only the shame that stopped me buying one of those toddler crash helmets. If I could get one disguised as something less, well, pathetic, I’d be in the shop with my Amex before you could say “concussion”.

  12. Gigi
    30th July 2009 / 7:34 pm

    This made me laugh and is now giving me nightmares…I agree about the toddler crash helmets although have been known to refuse to take said helmet off when toddler gets off his scooter – in case he decides to get back on again. Consequently we have a growing collection of K on swings, in garden and on slides in helmet with not a scooter in sight. He’ll hate me when he’s older.

  13. Sally
    30th July 2009 / 10:17 pm

    Gigi – I love that you keep his helmet on! Too funny.
    I consider it my job to build up an archive of photographs that Flea will hate me for when she’s older.

  14. 4th August 2009 / 3:16 am

    Haha – I have these panics and I don’t even have my own kids yet.
    Seeing any person under the age of about twelve doing anything other than sit quietly under the shelter at a railway station makes me twitch.

  15. Sally
    4th August 2009 / 9:00 am

    Ooh, sitting under a shelter. Except, I can tell you from experience you’ll be clutching at their little collars just in case they somehow trip and roll the TEN FEET to the edge of the platform, where they’re squashed by a train.
    Like I said, I’m not a rational person.