on Friday’s, I normally have about 3 hours from when I pick up Ben from kinder until when Jay gets home from work. I try to cram in dinner, Hudson’s 4pm feed, and quality fun time with Ben along with the actual kinder pick up (which these days is not so fun seeing as I have to get Hudson in and out of the car). Last Friday though, Jay was going to be working late so I had some time to kill. Where to? The local shopping centre has some indoor play equipment along with a café right next to it so it’s perfect. I thought I’d give Hudson his feed there, Ben can play, and I’d have my 3rd coffee.
With Benny happily playing and making new friends, and Hudson asleep on me after his feed, I noticed another mum sitting at the café with a newborn and what looked to me like a 3 year old. I often people watch and check out other mums who seem to have it all together and wonder how on earth they do it, as I look down at my spew stained trackies and feel sorry for myself. This mum though seemed stressed. She was with her hubby which I was jealous of as mine just started back at work after 6 weeks off, but that extra help didn’t seem to calm her.
She was rocking the pram which her newborn was in and tried to talk to her 3 year old and her husband at the same time, when the 3 year old started to scream. Not a cry, but a scream. It was that loud that everyone turned to see what was wrong. Her newborn then woke up. So here she was holding the baby, trying to talk and calm the 3 year old and yelling at the husband for no real reason. I saw her stress escalate quickly and everything she did next was exaggerated. She grabbed the nappy bag from under the pram, slammed it on the table, ripped it open, grabbed something out, stood up and then sat back down, all while holding the baby, trying to calm the now even loader 3 year old and yelling more aggressively at her husband.
I didn’t know whether to stop looking in case she saw me or go over and give her a hug. I felt what she was feeling. I’ve been there. You feel overwhelmed with pressure to calm the kid so people don’t stare and judge you for being a bad mum; overwhelmed with fear as you realise the baby is due for a feed and you probably won’t calm the kid down before you need to feed the baby; overwhelmed with pressure to be the perfect mum and keep it together and not unload on the kid who’s just being a kid and throwing a standard tantrum; and overwhelmed with guilt as you take it all out on your husband who is doing his best. He wants to help but doesn’t know how. Doesn’t know whether to calm the kid, feed the baby, or tell you it’s OK, because he knows whatever he does won’t be good enough because you’re beyond stressed. Its turned into a ‘Fight or Flight’ state of anxiety and the only thing that will help you is to let you do your thing and take back control of the situation yourself. (Link to Wiki for Fight or Flight definition)
Yep. I’ve been there. I was there just the night before as Hudson was crying because he needed to burp but wanted to sleep and Ben wanted me to help with his Lego, while I was half way through burning dinner. Even though I counted down the seconds until Jay got home from work, as soon as he did my anxiety was so high that I didn’t even say hi. He just let me do my thing, I took control of the situation on my own and I was fine.
I’ve said it sooo many times that you can’t cure anxiety, you just learn to manage it. Having this sort of ‘meltdown’ isn’t a setback and it doesn’t mean you’re weak, just means you’re human. You learn from it and if anything it makes you stronger as you learn to instantly recognize what’s happening next time it happens, and how you can try to manage your reaction.
Being a mum brings many new challenges- whether it’s your first baby, or tenth. We are not designed to know how to deal with them, even though society will lead you to believe that you have all the answers as soon as you first hold your newborn. There will be many stressful moments, even meltdowns. We take on a huge amount of responsibility being mums, and even though it’s the most rewarding job in the world, it’s also the toughest.We’re allowed to crack.
To the lady with the screaming kid- if you saw me staring at you, it wasn’t because your kid was crying or because I was judging you, it was because I was trying to telepathically tell you that I know what you’re feeling and what’s going on in your head. And it’s completely normal and OK. Your husband understands and your kid won’t remember your meltdown. Your baby will be OK if you feed her a little later than normal and you absolutely have the strength take back control. And if you cry a little about it later on once everyone is asleep and you’re in bed trying to calm those thoughts while scrolling through Instagram (or perhaps this blog?), then that’s OK too. It’s a bad moment and not a bad day. It will get easier and you will gain back control. I admire you for being you and not fake smiling through it.
You’re an amazing mum, even though you don’t always hear it.
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Cover image/quote for this post sourced from The Writing. Follow on Instagram @TheWriting