It’s every parent’s most dreaded fear; you turn your back for a second — not even a second, a fraction of a second — and something happens to your child.
If you have kids, it’s probably happened to you. You take your eyes away for a tiny slice of time, and suddenly, there’s a skinned knee, a fall, and crying. And then you feel terrible. You feel guilty and awful.
But one mom and blogger, Siobhan Rennie of Sydney, Australia, wants other parents to know they aren’t alone.
She’s found that keeping your kids safe is all about knowing how to prioritize what’s important, and not to worry so much about tackling everything at once, because your kids can really get hurt.
Rennie knows, firsthand, all about this. Her anxiety-driven perfectionism — something she openly admits about herself on her blog — caused her to leave the room for a moment while her two children, Harry and the younger Aoife (pronounced “EE-fa”,) sat in the bathtub together.
She was gone for less than a minute, but it was long enough for Aoife to slip under the water.
Luckily, Rennie was able to grab her daughter in time, and the baby is just fine. But the event was a galvanizing one for Rennie, as she realized that she’d let her perfectionist side — the side that felt the need for everything to be “done” — take over.
After the ordeal, Rennie took to the Internet to tell her story, fully aware that she might be met with a barrage of judgment.
But to her, it was more important to let other parents — especially those with anxieties similar to hers — know to keep a close watch on their priorities, and not let those anxieties put their children in jeopardy.
Anxiety is an insidious thing, and it often causes more problems under the guise of “getting things done” than we realize. Learn Rennie’s story below.
Siobhan Rennie is a mom and blogger living with her family in Sydney, Australia.
She tries her best, like all parents, to be the “perfect” mom for her kids. But one day, she had the horrifying realization that her anxieties about being “perfect” could actually have disastrous consequences.
It all started when she put her son Harry and daughter Aoife in the bath…
“Tonight, I put Harry and Aoife in the bath together, played with them a bit, then remembered I had washing to put away,” she wrote on her blog.
“So I went around the corner just a few meters to hang up one of my husband’s shirts. I didn’t hear anything out of the ordinary, just a tiny bit of splashing.”
But when she came back, she realized that the splashing was nothing tiny.
“I went back to the bathroom maybe 15 – 30 seconds later…and Aoife was under water flailing around. Harry was laughing. I grabbed her so fast out of that bath and held her to me…she was coughing and screaming. Harry suddenly realized she wasn’t playing and his face fell.”
Aoife was fine, but Rennie was, understandably, rattled by the experience, and realized that her need to be the “perfect” mom and wife had endangered her daughter.
“What I did was completely unacceptable,” she continues. “There is no way I should have left them in there together alone. I got complacent.”
What was she thinking, you might be asking?
Well, she explains: “As you all know, I have severe anxiety and am a huge perfectionist. This has combined, all my life, to result in me never being able to relax until everything is ‘done.’ And in my book that means the washing put away, the dishes done, everyone fed, everything tidy etc…so I can relax at night knowing it’s all sorted.”
Rennie knew that her honesty would likely draw the judgment of people on the Internet.
“Many of you out there will be thinking I’m a bad mum,” she says. “You’d never do it, right?”
“Well, I thought that, too.”
Despite the threat of judgment and general Internet nastiness, Rennie wanted to share her story to let other parents know the perils of getting caught up in perfectionism and not slowing down to concentrate on what really matters in the moment — the safety of small children.
“Our babies don’t care if the house is clean. They don’t care if there’s a pile of clean washing on the floor. They just need us there.”
Rennie still struggles with feelings of guilt over what happened in the bathtub, and hopes that other parents will take her experience as a warning.
“Please, heed my warning and never take your eyes off them. It could turn out to be your worst nightmare.”
However, as guilty as she might feel, she also wants parents — especially moms — to stop being so judgmental of one another and recognize each other as human beings, flaws and all.
She said, “I’m just doing my best, like we all are. We’re all in this together.”
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