You know, I’ve been a mum for 3.5 years now, but there’s still a lot I have to learn. Oh boy is there just so much I have to learn. But usually, most days, I kind of feel ok – like I’m doing alright in this mumming job.
Kids are fed, clothed, housed, clean, swear only occasionally (I wish I was joking here, but…well… oh shit) and like to sing, dance, read and even do yoga (not kidding – Cosmic Kids yoga is the best!). They eat the occasional vegetable, eat more bananas then I can actually fathom, and are generally courteous and caring little people. I love them more than I could ever imagine. Yeah, I think I’m doing ok. But sometimes doubt rears its ugly head (along with guilt, and fear…)… and I have a moment. Today was one of those moments. And look, now that I’m writing about it, it seems quite insignificant in the scheme of things – however I think it just represents one of the biggest revelations I’ve had so far on this mothering journey – that other parents can be your biggest supporters, or they can make you feel the absolute worst. This is just a reminder to myself to not be one of the latter. Be the supportive of other mums mum.
On Tuesdays Hannah has swimming lessons and I don’t think I’m the only parent who has rejoiced when their child can *finally* take part in swimming lessons on their own. Hannah absolutely loves swimming and has gone from strength to strength in her lessons now she is in the ‘big pool’ with other kids her age and no parents. But, alas, it is not the most relaxing time for me as I have to be there to supervise her, so I have to bring Audrey along and 1) keep her entertained 2) stop her jumping in the pool for the duration of the half and hour lesson, which in all honestly feels like a bazillion trillion hours and is one of the most difficult thirty minutes of my week. Audrey cries if she is in a stroller. Screams if she is in the carrier. Will not sit still. Will not be entertained or put to sleep just shy of an hour before nap time. Wants to be in the pool with her sister SO BAD.
An absolutely lovely mum (let’s call her Mum A) of one of the girls in Hannah’s class usually tries to help me with Audrey – distracting her, offering us snacks, etc. Which is totally unexpected but absolutely lovely, all the same. But, it’s still really hard work. Audrey is just one of those toddlers that seems to attract these comments: ‘Wow, you really have your hands full’ ‘She’s a live wire isn’t she!’ ‘She’s full of beans, that one.’ In short, she certainly keeps me busy. So you can imagine my pure delight* (*sarcasm font) when after running around the pool for 20 minutes chasing Audrey, wrestling her away from the pool’s edge and trying to entertain her with little games and food; that a woman, (let’s call her Mum B) who after crossing her legs, and then staring at me, said loud enough for many others to hear: ‘Excuse me, can I say something? I’m going to give you some advice although you probably don’t want it – I used to bring a bag of books and games for my youngest to play with when the eldest was in lessons.’ She went on: ‘…much better than this ball business (referring to the game I was playing with Audrey) – it’s just dangerous.’ Um. Yeahhhh ok THANKS.
I usually try to see the best in people, and I am lenient towards older generations because I know some simply do not give two hoots about decorum or politeness, but honestly! I was sweaty and exhausted, and what was she trying to achieve? To make me feel disorganised, stupid, like I was endangering my own child? Like I’ve never tried those techniques before? I don’t know. To be honest it affected me. I felt embarrassed, lonely, silly. I’d like to think it was well-meaning, but it didn’t feel that way. I’ve had to remind myself that I’m doing my absolute best at this. And I’ve really had to think about why this affected me so much.
Parenting is freaking hard. I’ve told many friends without kids that the past few years have been the toughest years of my life – physically, mentally, emotionally. I’ve learnt on the job, so to speak, and I’m still wading my way through. I think we’re all still learning, right? No one’s an expert. So, far out, let’s not make other parents feel like crap, especially when they’re most likely trying their best? Maybe let’s all try to be a bit more like Mum A and a bit less like Mum B.