I’ve Become The Mum I Never Wanted To Be

IMG_4333I received a very disapproving look from a lady stood next to me in the queue in Zara this weekend. You see, I had just handed my smartphone to my 17 month old son in a desperate attempt to stop him whining and crying in his pram. It was a bid to calm him so maybe, just maybe, I could browse some stores for 20 minutes (something I have not dared to do in a long while due to my adorable but equally wild child’s temperament).

With her gaze upon me, I felt disgusted in myself at that moment. I never wanted to be the Mum who relied on technology to shut her child up, but I’ve increasingly been doing it.

The morning had started well, with good intentions that Zachy and I go out for a ‘Mummy & Son breakfast date’ since my husband was heading out on his dirt bike. The plan was followed by a casual saunter around some stores to look for a new dress for a rare date night with my husband in the evening. Not too much to ask, hey?

In my idyllic imagined breakfast, Zachy sat like an angel while we happily shared a cheese and mushroom omelet with a side of avocado, while baby-babbling and smiling at each other. In reality a waiter had to come over and help get a protesting Zachy into his highchair, where he then proceeded to throw avocado and spoons and omelet before declaring he was bored by shouting and moaning. I did manage to get him to eat a little of his omelet and avocado…by pretty much force-feeding it to him on a spoon.

During the breakfast date I felt really disappointed in myself. As an advocate of baby-led weaning, I had never wanted to be the Mum who has to manually feed her child. I just so desperately wanted him to fill his little tummy in the hope he would calm down.

Having paid and visited the toilets, we set out on our shopping adventure. But with Zachy as usual point blank refusing to go in his pram in a violent protest plank, I decided to try and let him walk alongside me like a ‘big boy’. We got a few meters and I congratulated myself, thinking this might be the way forward during future excursions. It was premature, as he suddenly veered off to a nearing restaurant to make a grab for the plates and cutlery presented welcomingly on the tables. Sigh…

Picking him up to much protest, we fought our way to Massimo Dutti, where Zachy proceeded to pull all items of clothing within reach off the display units, touch the mannequins, and then leg it out the shop into a crowd of people (I had to abandon the pram and run after him into the busy Mall at this point). By this point I was stressed and starting to sweat with embarrassment as I retrieved and then again failed to contain him – he is so damn strong. I grabbed the pram and declared to him that “Mummy is sorry, but she is getting tough and you are going into the pram!” We went back to the loos where an absolute battle to end all pram-resisting battles ensued. He was screaming, I was crying. I felt awful, but I eventually got him clipped in.

Re-entering the Mall and heading to Zara, Zachy was crying loudly and I could feel peoples’ eyes upon me. I felt like a horrible person and a horrible Mummy. I had never wanted to be the Mummy that ignored her child while they sat in the pram in obvious distress.

It was at that point that I handed him my smartphone to help calm him down. But after being made to feel bad by the lady in the queue next to me, I just thought to myself, “you know what, sod it, I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t. There will always be someone judging me!”

But then it also dawned on me that before having a child of my own, I was just as judgmental.

Indeed, much of the disappointment in myself stems from the fact that I never wanted to be the Mum who spoon feeds her child…its just I never understood how important it is to the routine of the day that these little beings have something in their tummy! I never wanted to be the Mum that let her child cry in distress in the pram…but then I never considered the fact that this Mum perhaps needed to contain them for their own safety. And I most certainly never wanted to be the Mum that substituted parenting for smartphones…but then I never appreciated that this Mum might be nearing the end of her tether, and that if giving a smartphone means preventing a tantrum induced vomit, then that is her better judgment.

The bottom line? Don’t judge any Mum until you’ve walked a mile in her shoes. Perhaps a mile around a Mall with an unrelenting toddler, to be more precise. She is probably doing her absolute best to keep it together, and you just don’t know what is going on behind the scenes.

I guess we’re all perfect parents in our heads. Indeed, I was the absolute best! But then I had my son, and my old ideas of what’s best do not always work for us. He is a beautiful, adorable little boy. But he is a demanding toddler, and he can drive me up the effing wall! So yes, I’ve become the Mum that I never wanted to be. But I’ve also come to realise that the Mum I never wanted to be is actually pretty amazing. She has the good of her family at the front of centre of everything, and that’s what’s important. Do I care that I might sometimes use my smartphone to keep my son entertained? Not anymore. It’s needed.

So next time you’re out shopping and you pass a Mummy who looks like she might be having a tough time, why not offer a friendly smile of encouragement? It may well just make her realise that she is doing a good job after all.

Abbey x

P.s. I didn’t get a dress, but I got a very lovely maroon skirt! (pictured)

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like:

We May Never Venture Out In Public Again

A Baby-Tot’s Guide To Eating Out With Mum & Dad

Baby I Love You, But You’ve Been Exhausting Me

Also, follow me on Facebook for daily updates from life in the sandpit!

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11 thoughts on “I’ve Become The Mum I Never Wanted To Be

  1. I completely get this! My son is extremely hard work we’ve not been able to go to restaurants, shopping has been a nightmare. He would climb out of pushchairs throw things run off and be distructive with everything. The end of the day i would be frazzled! We have just taken him to a cranial osteopath and the change has been amazing! People kept saying he was ok and he wasnt that bad however i know the exact feeling you feel as people give disapproving looks x

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    1. Hi Melicos, that is fascinating – I have heard of cranial osteopathy before for colic and sleep, but not behaviour. How does it work? I am actually Googling it as we speak, but I would love to know more about your experience x

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  2. Oh so typical nael and me! He’s so wild that I’ve been wondering if it’s me that can’t handle him?! I’ve experienced it all and sometimes I just abandon the idea of going together, but I still do not for breakfast though, I let him play in a designed area then he sleeps and I do my shopping! Good to know that we’re not alone 🙂

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  3. That’s pretty much how a lunch or shopping excursion is for me all the time (unless he falls asleep which allows me either shopping time or a (hot) coffee!)
    Yes, the iPad with protective squishy cover comes out a fair few times. My sanity would hit the roof otherwise and frankly, I don’t want to be a stressed out, angry mum to a bored and restless toddler. A bit of time on child friendly equipment won’t turn them into screen addicts. Everybody else always thinks they know best, but I’d like to see them do it without any help! Your intentions are obviously good. Don’t beat yourself up over it, you’re doing just fine 😊

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  4. Every time I read your blog I feel a better mum, there are so many times you question your parenting but its just nice to know there are other parents out there that feel the same thankyou x

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    1. Thank you Lisa – its actually so amazingly reassuring reading lovely comments like yours to know I am not the only Mum that feels like this 🙂 Its a good job babies are cute, hey! x

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  5. My heart goes out to all you ladies. Had the same problems with my daughter to the point i couldn’t handle it any more. I couldn’t even go around a friends house or relative for a visit as she would kick off. It eventually got to me and for a short period of time i was depressed luckily pulled my self together and took control by being very stricked with her and time out meant time out. Now she’s such a relaxed child ans knows who makes the rules. I hope you all doing well. X

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    1. Thank you for sharing your experience Abbie. It’s been really nice to know I am not the only one. I’m actually doing a Toddler calm workshop soon so hoping to learn more about how to do just that – calm him down 🙂 x

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