Project Awesome

Making my life more awesome


on May 12, 2013

Small Girl fell down the stairs yesterday.  All the way from top to bottom, pretty much. Tip. Tumble. Flip. Thump. Thump. Thump.  All in devastating slow-motion, the stuff of nightmares, where your brain is racing and your feet won’t move.  She’s crying.  Her mouth is bleeding.  No bruises.  I cuddle her.  She seems ok.  I cuddle her some more.  She still seems ok.

Should I take her to hospital? I text Ex-Husband to tell him what has happened.  I don’t ask if I should take her to hospital.  He is medical (although he’s also the man who panicked when Big Girl asked where her wee came from, and told her it was her vagina) and I hope he’ll tell me if I should take her to hospital.  He asks what happened, how she is.  He doesn’t tell me to take her to hospital.

She still seems ok.  Really ok.  Happily playing, no bruises, no signs of concussion, no altered behaviour.  I decide not to take her to hospital.  I put the girls to bed.  This takes approximately three hundred hours as Small Girl fell asleep on the way home at tea time and is therefore in no way interested in going to sleep.  After a while I go to bed.  I try to wake her up, to check she’s not unconscious, before I go to bed.  For a child who has been referred to a psychologist for trouble sleeping, she is bloody difficult to wake when she wants to be (this is also a technique called ‘turning’ which is supposed to help her sleep for longer.  It works.  She wakes at 4am rather than her normal 2am.  I am trying this again, but without the falling-downstairs part).  I lie in bed wondering whether I should have taken her to hospital; if at some point I will have to explain suspicious old injuries to a social worker and I’ll say “well, she did fall down the stairs when she was nearly 2” and they’ll say “there’s no record of a hospital visit” and I’ll say “well, she seemed ok” and they will look at me and explain that only a stupid and neglectful parent would fail to take their toddler to A&E after falling all the way down the stairs.

I wish I had someone to share the responsibility with.  Someone whose job it is to discuss whether she needs to go to hospital.  Someone whose job it is to look after one child while the other goes to A&E. Instead I have Ex-Husband, to whom I confess my failings as a parent, the failings which allow my child to fall all the way downstairs, even though I was standing right next to her.  The man I fear is storing up all these stories as evidence for the day he decides he wants my children to live with him.

And there’s not just Ex-Husband, the man who loved me and then left me and now takes my children away from me.  There’s the Ex-Husband in my head.  I see my children cry for him and I am told that they sleep all night at his house.  He is clearly a superior parent.  I compare all my failings, the times I shout at my children because I feel so bloody tired, the times I feed them incoherent meals lacking in vegetables and mainly constituting chips and something from the freezer, the lack of enriching activities, the vast quantities of television used as a babysitter, with the parenting I imagine him doing.  (Yes, the parenting I am making up and have no evidence of in any way, shape or form except for what he tells me and Big Girl tells me.  Big Girl told me today that when she went to Grandma’s house she saw a hedgehog and Grandma told her it would be fine for her to bring it home if she wanted.  This seems unlikely to me).  And I fear his critical voice, the one asking me why I let her fall down the stairs, why I wasn’t holding her hand, why I’m not doing a better job, the best job I could be doing, of looking after my children.

And really, that voice is mine, is all my fears and anxieties about my parenting abilities and my children’s happiness and whether they will be ok.  The worst thing about being a single parent is knowing that my children have another home, another life, and the fear that perhaps they would be better in that life all the time, than here with me.


9 responses to “Falling

  1. Rachel says:

    There is nothing like a mother. And nothing like a mother who stayed there for them, never betrayed them, walked out on them, put herself before them to create her own new life. And nothing like a mother who, despite having to face a previously unimaginable emotional trauma, carried on and cared for her babies when falling apart seemed the more logical thing to do. Don’t underestimate what you do every day. An ordinary mum forced into becoming an extraordinary mum fighting obstacles at every turn. You really are awesome and your babies will grow to realise it too.

    • Blimey, you make me sound like a superhero. Or vigilante. I’d like to be Catwoman – she looks like she has more fun… I do feel quite tired though.

      • Rachel says:

        You are a bit of a superhero. Don’t worry about the Lycra though. I hear that superheroes wear dresses with pleats these days.

  2. Hope Small Girl is ok. Sounds like a scary thing to happen.
    Give her a big hug from us x

    • She does still seem to be fine, although she’s had quite a few accidents today as well – maybe she’s growing and is a bit out of balance or something like that. She has a bruise on her face that I just can’t account for and quite a few others that I can… Looking forward to seeing you again soon!

  3. Tosin says:

    What a moving post. Wishing you all the best for bringing up your girls. You sound as if you are doing a great job, and I’m sure your daughters love you very much;)

    • Thank you. They do love me, although they cry for their dad when they aren’t happy with what I’m doing – I think all children do that though, whether their other parent lives with them or not!

  4. seaswift says:

    When my girls were toddlers, I voiced all sorts of guilty feelings to the health visitor about how I didn’t feel I was a good enough mother. She said that if you’re worrying about whether you’re doing a good job, then you are definitely doing a good job, and that it’s the ones that don’t worry that are a cause for concern. You are doing a fantastic job!

    And when my youngest was 18 months, she fell down the stairs and broke her arm. I could tell there was something wrong so took her to A&E. As a mother, I think you know when there’s something wrong, or when you need to put your mind at rest, or when everything’s OK. Trust your instincts: no-one knows your children better than you.

    Keep on being awesome and inspiring us all!

    • Thank you! I feel sorry for people who don’t have good health visitors – I’ve had some impressive ones. I think I’m quite anxious because I never ever imagined my marriage would end, and certainly not the way it did, so I’ve lost faith in the predictability of the universe. If something so terrible can happen without warning, who knows what else could happen? It’s a little bit scary.

      A friend of mine’s little boy fell down the stairs and broke his leg at a similar age, so I’m feeling very fortunate that she’s come out of the accident without any injuries. Small Girl is definitely more accident-prone than Big Girl – she takes after me…

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