I’m not sure when it happened but some time during my first few years as a mum I was somehow brainwashed into thinking that being a full time mum was the best choice for my children. It was all up to me.
I’d given up my career after my firstborn was diagnosed with food allergies but by the time I had my second child, he was in a great preschool and happy. Instead of allowing his little brother to join him in preschool I decided I’d keep him home with me, as I had done with Philip. I’d done it all myself for the first four years of his life and I planned to give Giovanni the exact same gift of full time care from his mum.
I felt like it was the right thing to do.
I knew a lot of mums who placed their children into care as soon as possible and would spend those days exercising, getting their hair done, running errands and just relaxing. I wasn’t going to do that. I was going to keep my boy with me at all times.
It was hard.
Unlike Philip, my eldest, who used to hold my had without complaint and walk compliantly by my side, Giovanni tended to just run off, oblivious to my terror as I raced after him. He was big for his age and difficult to wrestle into the pram. But, I'd made the decision to be a full time mum and was determined to do it regardless of the difficulty.
I fell pregnant again by accident and still stubbornly refused to put Giovanni into care. He wasn't even two. I wanted him with me always.
The day my world fell apart was in the lead up to Christmas. We were in a children's clothing store. I sat my boys down in front of the TV set up in the store and they settled in to watch the show that was playing while I walked two steps to the counter to pay, my newborn daughter asleep in her pram next to me.
I paid for my purchase and glanced back at the boys. Philip was sitting quietly watching the TV but Giovanni was gone.
WATCH this social experiment where a lost little girl asks strangers for help to find her mum. Very disturbing. Post continues after video...
I started rushing around the store calling for him, explaining to startled staff that my little boy had wandered off.
"Philip, where's Giovanni," I asked him desperately. He shrugged his shoulders. He was five and hadn't noticed Giovanni taking off. I told him to stand next to the pram and NOT to move.