As a mum of a toddler sometimes even the simplest of tasks can become more like a climb up Mount Everest. When I thought life with a new born was difficult I clearly never knew what was to come only a short year later. A one year old feels the constant need to test their parents boundaries and see how far they can be pushed before crumbling into a heap on the floor. In fact my son takes great pleasure in watching me crumble into a heap on the floor.
Life with a toddler is fulfilling and precious but it can sometimes be incredibly tough. Most mums will know that days can range from being fantastic and fun to being full of battles and conflict. On occasions when the days are full of battles you find yourself needing to leave the house. Sometimes to run errands, sometimes to burn some energy off your toddler or sometimes just to see some different (and hopefully happy faces) I am however quickly learning that people can be very impatient with toddlers in public. I am sure at times I have been guilty of being one of those people prior to having my son (although I would never try to make someone feel bad intentionally). I probably did quietly judge a mother with her out of control toddler and think I could do better if I was given the chance. That child needs boundaries blah blah blah! What I never understood back then was just how little control you have over that tiny person at certain times and how being in public when your toddler decides to have a meltdown can make you feel incredibly small and vulnerable yourself.
This week a simple trip to the supermarket turned into such a mission that I wished I had never left the house. My day had started out the way it meant to go on. Grumpy baby who didn't want eat, sleep, play or do anything except cry and shout at me. I needed some things at the supermarket so we hopped in the car and off we went. We sang frozen in the car to keep the peace and parked up at the supermarket.
As I tried to juggle my squirming son on my hip, find a child trolley that wasn't wet and scramble for a pound to unlock the damn thing I noticed a small queue of dorking oldies tutting behind me. After apologising a few times I managed to unlock the trolley and move out of their way. No one smiled or said not to worry. I probably delayed them by 10 seconds but I obviously disrupted their day and didn't they want me to know it!
Once in the supermarket my son perked up. Happy at this achievement I concentrated on choosing my bread. The excitement of my day! He then proceeded to pull 5 loafs of bread off the cart and into mine and another mans trolley. The man was utterly annoyed at this. I scrambled to remove them from his trolley and apologised. He nodded and walked away.
Another 10 minutes in and Marley was getting agitated. It was at this point that the dummy started to be launched across the frozen meat section. Realising that my bending up and down to collect the dummy was a fun game it started to be thrown with more force. I know what you are all thinking....Take the damn thing away! It makes sense and I would agree if my happy toddler had been out and about but on this occasion I had gone into auto pilot and was picking it up and popping it back in like a robot without even thinking. Finally the dummy got launched with such force it flew under one of the freezers. So there I am in the middle of the supermarket on my hands and knees reaching under a freezer. Let me tell you, after looking under those freezers its not somewhere that you want your child's dummy sitting for too long. It was just out of reach meaning that I had to shuffle on my stomach to get it. During this utterly proud moment of my life I felt the presence of more dorkingions looking over me. Someone shoved my trolley aside (which contained my son) with such force that it almost sent me under the freezer with Marleys dummy. Someone laughed and of course there was more tutting. Once I finally obtained the dummy I got up, dusted myself off (literally) and walked away as quick as I could without making eye contact with any of them. You will be pleased to know the dummy went in my pocket much to my sons disgust.
Relieved to be at the end of our fun shopping experience we started queuing. I realised that as I was putting my items on the conveyer belt, Marley was taking someone else's off. Upon realising this I immediately told him no and apologised to the lady. She didn't say its ok, she didn't smile, she just looked at him with a grumpy face and turned her back. So the next 5 minutes was spent amusing Marley with our own food and praying she would realise that I just had a toddler behind and not a teenage supermarket thief!
When we made it to the checkout Marley started his usual ritual of waving and smiling at the checkout lady. This seems to be his favourite past time when we are out and I love it. Most checkout staff are sweet and respond with waves back and big smiles. Not this lady....not today. Despite him stretching over so he was right in her line of sight she ignored him. She didn't speak to me and she didn't respond when I said thank you she just shoved my receipt in my hand and carried on about her business. I still don't know what we did to upset her.....it was probably something going on in her own life that was upsetting her but after the hour I had just experienced I would have done anything for a friendly smile.
So with that I stepped outside and took a big breathe...of what I don't know, relief that we were done? Exhaustion? Or the fact that all those things just happened in the space of an hour...in public?? I should have laughed! Who knows! I walked the trolley to the trolley park and stood for a moment working out how to get all of my bags out, plus Marley and put the trolley back to retrieve my pound. Just as I had started to unload everything a voice came from behind me saying “let me help you with all of that” not “can I help” but “let me help” I turned around to see a lovely smiling lady taking my trolley away before I had a chance to say anything. She went over to the trolley park, put my trolley back and gave me my pound back. She wasn't a member of staff just a lovely lady who saw me struggling. When I thanked her she looked at me with such kindness and said “It gets better. I promise you it gets better....until they are teenagers!” I don't know if that lady witnessed my whole supermarket experience or if she just saw I was struggling to get everything out of my trolley, but she made my day. She made me smile when so many people had made me feel that I was an inconvenience. She took a moment out of her busy day to help me and it made me feel calm and in control. And she promised me it gets better :-) I doubt she will ever come across this rambling blog but I hope if she does she knows how thankful I am for her act of kindness.
Being a mum with a toddler is the best job in the world. It is fun, rewarding and amazing but it can be really hard at times. Those little people can embarrass you more than you could imagine, they can drain your energy and they can make you feel like you are invisible. Its the very best job in the world but its relentless. So if you see a mum who looks like she is having a bad day, try and smile, try and help. It only takes a few seconds and it will make that mums day just that bit easier. And for other mums reading this who have been where I was in the supermarket this week just remember that if the kind lady that helped me is right.....it does get easier ;-)