Many mothers have felt that moment of panic when they look round and their toddler is nowhere to be seen…having escaped and now fleeing in nappies to explore new places.
Sarah felt that rising panic when her little Isabelle slipped unseen out of the gate one day. “There was no lock on the gate at the time,” explained Sarah. “Just string holding it shut and I must have forgotten to tie it.”
Running in search of the toddler, Sarah found her nearby in the neighbourhood. A woman watching the scene unfold approached her and began to give Sarah a lecture. Nobody likes to have their parenting questioned, especially when one is feeling stressed and in the aftermath of panic so, “I gave her a mouthful”, says Sarah. The woman turned out to be an off-duty police officer and she reported Sarah. After that social services got involved and put Sarah in touch with Safe Families for Children.
“I found it quite difficult because people were saying, ‘Oh, I wouldn’t have anyone looking after my kids that I didn’t know and stuff but at the same time I felt like I needed that. It’s all right for them to say that but they’re not here to help me. My parter is self-employed so he’s out practically every day and my Mam died so I’ve nobody to help us.”
After the traumatic day Isabelle escaped Sarah began to suffer depression and to have breakdowns.
“It was my brain, it was so full I couldn’t get anything else in…like muddy water. I couldn’t think to even see how I felt. My head was overcrowded.”
A volunteer Family Friend for the children was matched with the family so Sarah could have a bit of a break every fortnight and then Safe Families sourced a volunteer to support Sarah, to go have a cup of coffee and chat while the kids were doing soft play.
The volunteer and Safe Families staff also encouraged Sarah to go to the doctor’s and get some counselling, which she did.
“I’m completely different now”, says Sarah. “I feel like my old self’s back. I remember going into work not long ago and saying to this lad who is a good friend, ‘Eee, I feel like the old me’s back’.
“It just gives you a break from the monotony of your routine I suppose. It’s somebody to talk to. I haven’t met all the volunteers but I assume they’re the same. You’re not getting judged and they’re sitting there letting you waffle away. It gives you that bit of rest to fight another day.”
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