I really don’t cope well!

At least not when my almost-three-year-old is deciding that getting into her car seat after a nice afternoon with friends is the time to act more like a cat resisting the catbox. Except toddlers don’t do it mostly silently like cats do, just with all their limbs projected out to the sides, they have to scream and shout and resist and push and arch their backs and do anything else they can to be stronger for that particular moment of the day.

Why then? I will never know. Nothing prompted it, nothing lead up to it. It was a mystery, but a mystery that stirred up so much anger inside me that she had to do that, at that time of the day and outside that children’s centre. The adjoining school had just spat out a *what’s the word for large group of schoolchildren*… Gaggle, a gaggle of children, with their gaggling and gawping parents who’s children obviously never have tantrums or surely they’d just glance briefly, exchange a suitable look of “I hate children too” with me, and carry on walking. But no, when I asked my PA to take Amélie out of the car and stand her by the wall and walk away, the look of shock, horror and “oh my god there’s an abandoned child”, was just a little too prevalent for my liking. She was only stood about 6 feet away from the car, in which I was sat with my door wide open watching her, she was in absolutely no danger. As far as I was concerned, if she was refusing to be strapped in then I can refuse her entry into the car!

But the thing that got to me about all this wasn’t Amélie at all (well I’d rather she didn’t have ridiculous tantrums like that in public, but it comes with their job description I think), it is that I can’t deal with it, any of it. As you might know, toddlers don’t listen to verbal cues much when they are in such a state.  They need their parent to grab them, take them to one side and remove them from the situation that they’re disturbing. I cannot do that, and it infuriates me. So despite not being able to shout properly due to my non-working vocal cord, I do all I can and feel at that moment to let my child know that I am indeed rather p*ssed off with them, for their behaviour and for making it seem even more obvious that I have to employ someone else to deal physically with that.
It’s one of my reasons for breastfeeding, only I can breastfeed my children. No one else can or needs to take over. It’s the one thing only I can do for them, It is essential for me, and I hope for them too.

So next time you are being kicked in the chin from restraining your toddler, or you get peed on whilst you’re changing a nappy, those are things I so wish I could do!

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I cope so well!

I cope so well, apparently.

Twice this week I’ve been told how well I deal with being a mum. First was a (lovely) nurse whilst I took Geneviève for her immunisations, who said “you do so well to breastfeed her”. Now I know that she meant it as a compliment and was intended to make me feel good, which it sort of did. But it also sort of didn’t.

The second time was today, a grandmother at a baby group that I would normally be running myself if I wasn’t on maternity leave, who said “You cope so well”. I’d never met her before, and it was the first and only thing she said to me on the way out of the door with her daughter and baby granddaughter. I’d only arrived 5 minutes beforehand, so aside from those few minutes where Geneviève was crying at a rather inappropriate volume and I was trying to soothe her (unsuccessfully), she didn’t really witness much of my parenting skillset. Yet she still said this to me, also with complimentary intent of course. The thing is, everyone else in the room all but stopped talking to look and see my screaming child and to mentally process just how well I was coping, no matter how subconsciously, of that I have no doubt.

But it got me thinking… If I wasn’t so obviously a disabled mum, would people be so quick to compliment? What about when people see me frantically trying to rock a Sainsburys trolley back and forth to soothe the afore mentioned Geneviève while Tom has gone to get something in another aisle, would they think so highly of how well I do then? Do people assume I’m going to fail at every hurdle and melt onto the floor in a heap screaming “I can’t dooo this!”

I’ve wanted to do that a lot lately. But don’t tell them that. But what would happen if I had a baby and didn’t even attempt to breastfeed, to burp them, to soothe them, to play with them? Isn’t that just what every parent does, or tries to do?

One part of me smiles gratefully and says thank you to the compliment-weilding stranger, while inside the other part of me is wanting to challenge them and say, “Well, what were you expecting? Would you say that to an able-bodied parent?”

But that just sounds awfully ungrateful and unnecessarily antagonistic. I just know I’m going to spend a great many years arguing with them in my head and never being bold enough to say anything. Dammit.