Eternal Vigilance's the Price of Motherhood

December 11 , 2021
By Kidist Yidnekachew ( Kidist Yidnekachew has degrees in psychology and journalism and communications. She can be reached at )

Almost every mother has that soft spot for their children, turning them to control freaks. Even those women who, like myself, did not think they would be over-protective mothers found themselves becoming one. I have become the kind of mom who would, if she could, put her children in a box to keep them safe.

There is a reason for this. I often see across my window children playing by themselves in our neighbourhood. These children are mostly between four and eight years old. For children who are older than five, it might be okay to play with each other under adult supervision. But four-year-olds running around with eight years old, climbing, jumping spending hours by themselves is neglectful.

What if they fall over a stone, and it hits them? What if they fell over the stairs or got hit by a car? Maybe I am assuming the worst, but better prepared than sorry, right?

Mothers, especially, are guardian angels as we often do our best to keep our children from trouble. Fathers are looser and tend to underestimate the danger. Indeed, the predicament parents could be in is understandable. It is challenging for parents to monitor their children, especially when they have more than one child. If both parents have regular jobs, and especially if there is not a helping hand either in the form of a nanny or close relatives, it will be tough.

Living in a condominium, I witness children putting themselves in the line of danger on many occasions. Once I saw two children, probably seven years old, climbing over a water tower. No one was watching them and they kept climbing up. I nearly had a heart attack watching them from my window. The other time I saw two children around six years old fighting with sticks and one of them nearly poked the other’s eye out. Children hanging off a wall is almost an everyday phenomenon in our neighbourhood. I have heard of stories of children falling off the wall from the fourth floor and dying. And yet, some parents are oblivious to the possibilities of their kids facing such accidents.

These things do not only happen outside of the house. A couple of weeks ago, I visited a friend who also happened to live in a condominium. Her son was playing with the neighbour's daughter – both of them are five years old. The neighbours have full-time jobs; thus, they had to leave the girl and her little brother with a maid. My friend kept going to their house every now and then to check on her son. She does not trust the maid as she does not pay adequate attention to the children. On several occasions, she has rescued her son and the neighbour's daughter from danger. Once, she caught them when they were about to light a plastic bag when they could not find a candle to burn.

To be fair to the maid, she is overworked. She is expected to do house chores and double as a nanny. Surprisingly, my friend says that even when the parents are at home, they barely pay attention to their daughter.

People often say, “let them be kids, let them run around. They will be fine.”

Will they? Thus far, there have never been kids in our neighbourhood who experienced harm, but that does not mean it cannot happen. It is tricky finding the balance between being protective and giving children the freedom to explore their surroundings.

Whenever it gets too much for me, I have to remind myself that it comes down to fate at the end of the day. But that does not mean I have to stop looking after them vigilantly to the best of my ability, even if I drive myself crazy in the process. It is a blessing and a curse.

PUBLISHED ON Dec 11,2021 [ VOL 22 , NO 1128]

Kidist Yidnekachew has degrees in psychology and journalism and communications. She can be reached at

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