The Day I Sucked at Motherhood
Today was a really hot day (something of a rare occurrence in England, even through Summer), so we decided to pack a picnic and head out for the day.
When we arrived to pitch up, there were people everywhere and wasps swarming (due to all of the food, I suppose). 7 months ago, I was stung on my back by a wasp that flew down my top in the car and since then, I seem to have acquired a bit of a fear so I certainly don't handle it particularly well when they're flying around A and I, and won't leave us alone. I can't help it, I panic.
I was holding A when one wouldn't leave us alone and I felt a huge sting on my arm. Somehow the shock hit me and I dropped A; my arms failed me and I let go of him.
It was a split second reaction; I didn't even have time to think and the guilt kicked in before he'd even hit the floor.
Thankfully, I'm short and he fell onto grass and started to cry immediately. I scooped him up so fast and burst into tears. His poor little lip was bleeding, all thanks to me. A crowd of around 70-80 people witnessed my inept mothering.
How could I drop him? Surely, my instant reaction should've been to protect him, not just let him go? I felt awful, A was crying, I was wailing and we'd caused quite the scene, plus my arm was throbbing from the sting. Thankfully he only had a small cut on his lip that cleared up quickly and his tears seemed mostly a reaction of my horror; I was scaring him, which made me feel even worse.
How many, out of those 70-80 people, came to ask if me or my son were ok? Not even one. And this isn't the first time.
When A was a baby, he was eating a snack in his highchair whilst we were out having coffee. The place was packed and intimate, and we experienced a choking incident that was severe enough for me to end up standing, crying, patting my baby on the back and pleading for help. But, did 1 person come over to check we were ok? No, yet the multitude of stares were unavoidable.
I look young for my age, really young, some people will assume I am not old enough to be A's mother and I get a lot of stares, tuts and questions, mostly judgemental unfortunately.
This has bothered me extraordinarily for some time, not least because I'm actually 27, but more for the poor Mums who do happen to be young.
Being a Mum is hard, even when you've made the decision to have children and you know you can support them, emotionally and financially, so having children when you're young and aren't sure of either of those things must be extremely difficult, and what should we be offering?
Judgemental looks of disgust or a helping hand? Just because some Mum's are young, it doesn't mean they don't love their children as fiercely as you or I, or want the absolute best for them; it just means the circumstances in which they had them are different.
In fact, in the multitude of videos I see campaigning against parental judgement, working & stay-at-home Mums, bottle & breast, etc. old & young Mums seem conveniently left out and what does that tell us? That it's not ok for those young & old Mums to have difficult times? That they should be shunned and suffer alone? I don't think so.
So, next time you see a Mum having a hard time, no matter her age or how incapable you might think she is, stop and think. Perhaps she's just not perfect, like the rest of us, and one simple offer of help or even look of understanding from a generous stranger might be all it takes to lift her spirits and help her carry on trying to be the best Mum that she can be for her children.
And please, if you see a Mum shrouded in hysterical guilt because she's just fallen short, just think how you'd feel if that was you, and offer some words of empathy, it could make all the difference.
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