He grabbed my sunglasses along with a handful of hair, while screaming in my ear and kicking at my stomach.
“We’ll go back out, mummy just needs her jacket, we’ll go back out,” I repeated, aware I was pleading with him, but saying it over and over allowed me to keep my tenuous grasp on my temper.
The wee man had two almighty tantrums at lunchtime today, both times because we took him away from the play park before he was ready.
The first time was to go into the cafe for lunch; the second was because I forgot my jacket. The place was mobbed – it was Easter Sunday. My humiliation was nearly overwhelming and Rod’s barely-concealed rage was almost as bad as our sons’. I had to lock the wee man and I in the baby change cubicle for ten minutes to let us all calm down.
Then a surprising thing happened. Alone at last and paying for some goodies from the farm shop, the assistant asked sympathetically if my wee boy was “OK now?”
“Oh, yes, he’s absolutely fine, just upset we took him away from the swings,” I said quickly, in an apologetic tone.
“I felt so sorry for you, I remember those days so well, they do pick their moments don’t they? Biggest audience possible to embarrass mum and dad,” she said, smiling.
I looked up from my embarrassed purse-rummaging in surprise.
“Oh yes, we’ve all been there, I’m sure every parent here was feeling your pain and wishing they could help,” she added.
So they weren’t all tutting at us and wondering what was wrong with that child? They weren’t all shaking their heads as I carried him, squirming violently, under one arm into the disabled toilet or sighing at the ensuing echoing yells?
Of course they weren’t. I should have known this because only the day before the boot had been on the other foot. I’d enjoyed a peaceful lunch with my mum and on the way out we passed a woman drinking wine while her baby gnawed a cookie in a highchair.
“The things you have to do to keep them quiet!” she said quickly.
We stopped, smiling indulgently at the wee girl and then sympathetically at the woman.
“I totally sympathise, I have a three year old,” I told her.
“I’d never usually give her a cookie, but her dad’s been on the golf course every day and the waitress suggested it and I just really needed this one glass,” she stumbled over her words in her completely unnecessary attempt to justify her actions to us. I could have hugged her, I really could.
“I’m going to be 46 soon, it’s so hard when you’re older, but we went through so much to have her, 15 years of treatment would you believe?” she added, to our surprise. Clearly this poor woman had been on her own with her baby for too long and was desperate for adult conversation. But you know what, I totally got that too. I wish now that I’d just sat down with her and ordered another couple of glasses. We could have swapped war stories and moaned about how much easier it is for the men and how no one understands how hard it is and generally wallowed while getting pleasantly tipsy.
Everyone has these moments where they wonder how the hell they got to this and how on earth they’ll ever cope. And then it passes. For every “Oh my God this is hell” moment, there is an “Oh my God I’m going to burst with happiness” moment. Next time there’s a hell moment I’ll try to remember that the people around me are sympathising, not judging.