Yesterday the husband gave me the ultimate treat. An hour to myself. You know life, and you, have changed when a solo trip to Tescos is a like a mini spa break where you can take your time shopping and not have to bribe a child with anything edible to prevent them for having public meltdown. Things got even better when I happened to phone the husband as I had a shopping question and he said “stay and have a coffee after you’re done”! This, as any mother will appreciate, was the holy grail. A hot drink you say, with no interruptions or concerns that a fellow Costa customer would get a babyccino flung in their direction for no apparent reason. Suffice to say, I was sold on the idea.
Sitting there, alone, relaxed and not rushing a coffee at warp speed was one of the most relaxed moments I’d had in a while. Josh is very nearly two now and like most toddler boys, the kid doesn’t stop. Combine that with growing him a brother or sister, and I am usually a very tired, somewhat highly strung, and bedraggled looking Mama. I felt almost stupid at how joyful I was to have such a simple half an hour to myself; something I did so often before kids but never quite appreciated. Now I get it. It has become one of lifes luxuries.
Fast forward 24 hours later and we are back to somewhat stressed Mama and a half drunk cold cup of tea next to me, snatching the opportunity to blog whilst my little sidekick naps. This is the more realistic side of motherhood. This morning we had a birthday party for one of Josh’s little friends. It was one of those, I was really quite looking forward to it; a lot of my close friends would be there and it was our reason today for going out and dressing Josh uber cutely in a little shirt. But then once we got there the realistic side of things become apparent; it started off with my naive attempt to have a cup of tea. No – his radar went off; “Mummy is daring to sip a hot drink and not give me her undivided attention despite me being surrounded with lovely toys to play with, what an idiot she is” and he decided me and the bump made the ideal climbing frame. Following this we had meltdowns because I wouldn’t let him drag his friends ball pit around the lounge, I gave him a cheese sandwich that was apparently not as tasty looking as the one on his friends plate and when he got busted for taking an interest in my friends kitchen cupboards, particularly the one with a bottle of gin in it (he’s definitely my kid)!
Suffice to say, by the time we left and I was willing him to have a nap on the drive home, I was a little…. highly strung. My relaxed Costa fuelled state of mind from the day before was a memory that felt like it was a million years ago and I was uncomfortably hot and sweaty thanks to the combination of pregnancy hormones and wrestling a toddler into a car seat. But then, you get home, turn around and there they are fast asleep in their car seat; so angelic. Those beautiful long lashes, the content expression on their faces, and feeling their chubby arms around you as you gently carry them into the house all the while praying to the nap gods that your child will transfer to the cot and not wake up yet!
Motherhood is full of highs and lows. You gotta take the rough with the smooth right. It is quickly teaching me that I am more patient than I realised, yet I still need to be more patient. It’s a never ending learning curve and one where you can feel alone sometimes wondering “is it just me“. You can have the most well laid out plans ahead for the day, you can feel like it is all going swimmingly and then boom, a two year old has the power to pull the rug out from under you without a moments hesitation. Yesterday we went for a lovely early morning seaside walk; we got a pastry and a coffee and Josh fell asleep on the way home. Absolutely winning. Today we decided it had been so nice that we’d do it again; today Josh was not so on board with this plan. He hated his buggy, he hated the footmuff I’d spent 20 minutes painstakingly trying to attach to the buggy (Quinny, your design is stupid), he hated his gloves, yet he hated the cold, and he hated anyone that came near us. However I was with him on this last point when it came to the absolute random stranger who ever so thoughtfully (!) commented: “Your little one must be freezing, doesn’t he have a hat and gloves ”
Why yes completely random stranger, he has a beautiful fox hat that I adore but that he has launched somewhere unbeknown to me in some unspoken fit of rage meaning I will have to go and buy him another. Gloves….. there is more chance of Donald Trump making a logical decision than there is of getting my almost two year old to keep a pair of gloves on for more than 7 seconds despite my best efforts.
In that moment I was with Josh on the decision to frown and feel the need to have a whinge. Being a 34 year old woman I felt such behaviour might be met from said advice giver with concern or confusion suffice to say, I muttered something along the lines of “if you know how to get kids to keep them on you could earn a fortune” and shuffle off feeling somewhat shamed.
It got me thinking; maybe these belligerent toddlers are on to something. They don’t give a shit do they; they don’t care what people think of them, they couldn’t give two hoots if their buddy at nursery can say 30 words, they have absolutely zero shame in making their point made in public at a particularly loud decibel. They call your bluff when you throw empty threats at them. They find a parenting disaster simply hilarious and their biggest issue mid tantrum is deciding when enough is enough and if they’ll get a gingerbread man out of parent guilt. Perhaps we need to take a leaf out of their books. Rather than beating ourselves up, convinced our child was the “naughty” one at a party or that we are hopeless parents because we lost a hat, maybe we need to look around and think “actually they are all handfuls in their own delightful little ways”. Maybe we need to adopt their way of thinking “who cares” to peoples unasked for opinions (plus toddlers can do a resting bitch face so well that sometimes, no words are necessary in response).
Toddlers are so innocent that it means they are entirely confident in themselves; they have no cause for concern when it comes to how many numbers they can count, when they start talking or if they are as well behaved as someone they’re being constantly compared to. They’re just them, they wing it, and they force us parents to wing it most of the time too. Maybe they’re on to something. They just want the simple things in life; mostly to know Mummy and Daddy are there for them whenever they need us, which we are. They don’t over-analyse an old lady commenting on our parenting fails when it comes to dressing our kids inadequately (believe me I tried)! They don’t come away from a fun morning fretting cause they hauled toys from one room to another in someone elses house. They just go with it. Maybe if we tried that, we’d stop worrying about things we needn’t worry about. Deep down, I know my friend wasn’t bothered with Josh making his presence known at her daughters party. I know that the old lady probably doesn’t think I am a totally shit Mum. I know that Winging It is pretty much the parenting prerogative these days. Perhaps we need to embrace that rather than fight it.
It’s funny what an almost two year old can give you to think about….