Love Is… Thinking Your Kid is Going to Be Eaten by Pigs

For Mental Health Awarness Week Sal Thomas shares how her worries lead her to CBT

Sal Thomas

Marketing Director Nokamo


Prior to becoming a mum, I used to think people who spouted lines like “you don’t know what love is until you’ve had kids” should be gathered together under the auspices of a Global Cliché Convention and summarily put out of their misty-eyed misery. 

After all, despite having not made full (any) use of my reproductive organs by the age of 37, had I not experienced the ultimate in four-letter-word witchcraft by meeting and marrying the man with whom I would ultimately be going halves on a baby? 

I knew ‘love’, thank you very much. It was that stuff spoken of by poets, playwrights and philosophers. It was life! (Leo Buscaglia) It was a single soul inhabiting two bodies! (Aristotle). It was all around us! (Wet Wet Wet). 

Now I know those platitude-proffering parents had a point. In fact, the only thing more powerful than the love I feel for my son nowadays is the fear I have concerning his continued safety. 

For me, ‘love is…’ a full-on mental health problem of a very real kind: a crippling anxiety that refuses to pipe down.

Sal Thomas, Marketing Director at Nokamo

For me, ‘love is…’ a full-on mental health problem of a very real kind: a crippling anxiety that refuses to pipe down. The type that means every time school calls, I assume he is dead. Crushed under a fallen oak tree branch in the playground. Drowned in a prank gone wrong during a swimming lesson. Consumed by hungry pigs during a farm visit that took a sinister turn. 

I am a worrier on an industrial scale. 

From the moment myself and the hubby knew we couldn’t be bothered finding anyone better than each other, we questioned whether we should procreate. 

Was it really fair to bring an unsuspecting and non-consenting child into a world where famine, war and Mr Tumble still exist? 

Now I wonder whether we did the right thing bringing a child into a world where swings exist. 

I see danger everywhere. 

Take the sun, for example. Not the red-top-tit-tabloid-shit-fest-junk-journal available from newsagents, but the actual sun. 

It’s an eight hundred and sixty-five-thousand-mile-wide mass of burning hydrogen and helium, punting out temperatures that make an atom bomb look like an altar candle. 

And that’s in our sky, that is. Above my son’s head. Every day. And I’m meant to let him go out in it?! 

And roads. Whose idea were roads? Couldn’t the Romans have stopped at amphitheatres and animal cruelty? Why did they have to get all ‘ooh, wouldn’t it be great to easily get from one place to another’ on our asses. Now I get to worry about lorries, vans, cars, bikes, electric scooters and that lollipop man who doesn’t look quite right. 

I am even subtly encouraging my husband to get laser eye surgery so he’d be better able to protect the boy in the event of the apocalypse because you couldn’t possibly prevail against flesh-seeking zombies if you wear glasses. 

My imagination is in permanent overdrive. Final Destination-like scenarios play out in vivid technicolour, often just as I’m trying to go to sleep. 

I probably shouldn’t have been surprised by this obsessiveness – I have form. I can’t leave the house in a mess when we go away in case we never return and people posthumously consider me untidy. I worry that my left hand feels left out whenever the right one greets someone new.  

Of course, we’re biologically and evolutionarily wired to protect our offspring, and given that our son is our only child, our DNA must really be on tenterhooks as to whether we’ll manage to get him to an age where he can procreate. 

But it is on a rare adult-only weekend to Naples that I finally realise I need help, when what should have been a welcome break turned into an assumed dereliction of duties because the boy was almost certainly going to perish in our absence. 

I refer myself for some CBT. 

At first, I was resistant to its effects. Worrying is my parenting superpower, a type of mental insurance policy. It is the very thing keeping him alive, goddammit!

Of all the things I’m at pains to shield him from in life, surely top of the list needs to be my own irrational fears?

Sal Thomas, Marketing Director at Nokamo

But slowly, surely, and with a whole mess of snot and tears, it is deconstructed and shown up for what it is: life-limiting catastrophising that serves no mortal benefit. Worse, it is damaging my marriage, my mental health and my son’s capacity to develop his own calculations of risk. 

Of all the things I’m at pains to shield him from in life, surely top of the list needs to be my own irrational fears? 

So I start to back off. To ‘delay worrying’ until a set time each evening. To question the voices when they whisper their torturous prophecies in my ear. To feel the fear and let him crack on anyway. Because what is ‘life’ if not a wonderful and miraculous daily negotiation of all the things intended to rob us of it? 

The thoughts haven’t gone. CBT is a balm, not a miracle cure. But they hold less power than they once did. So now I can concur with those other cliché-utterers - the ones that say you can’t wrap children up in cotton wool. Of course you can’t - it’s a choking hazard! 

But bubble wrap with a straw at the mouth-hole would be okay, right? 

Guest Author

Sal Thomas

Marketing Director Nokamo


Sal is Marketing Director at Nokamo, a consultancy developing transformative propositions to unhide businesses.

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