I am not a cool mum by any means.
I’m a neurotic mum, a worried mum, a paranoid mum, a ‘worst-case-scenario’mum and hey, I’m OK with that. This is my first baby and, like riding a bike, I’m nervous and trying to figure it out as I go along.
It’s a balancing act.
As alluring as the idea of being a zen mother looks on Instagram, I’m not it. I might be, one day, but I’m not there yet. Heck, I’m not even close.
That said I’m not here to cast judgement on mother’s who are because god knows I’m jealous as all hell of them.
I would hope they’d afford mother’s like me the same non-judgement attitude. Not so. Not always.
So, I’ve got a real thing about grapes. Under no circumstances is G allowed to eat them whole. Even when they’re those really teeny-tiny sultana grapes. Sorry, the answer is no. Instead, I cut or bite them in half for her. My paranoia developed after reading countless stories about children choking on whole grapes. Not only that, doctors have pleaded with parents to make sure they don’t even feed their kids grapes AT ALL.
That said, yesterday while buying a bag of grapes at the fruit market my husband decided to give G a whole one. I looked down and saw her playing with the grape before shoving it in her mouth.
I freaked. But I tried not to freak because I thought if I freaked too much I might freak G out and cause her to inhale the grape. So I freaked quietly and waited for her to spit it out.
When she did I let rip at Ash. A mixture of pent up fear, anger and relief all came out in one explosive word vomit diatribe: ‘I told you not to give her whole grapes how could you do that why don’t you ever listen to anything I say can you imagine if she choked on that oh my god I feel sick’.
Standing next to us was a middle-aged woman. As we walked out together she looked at her friend and, with her lips pursed, rolled her eyes and shook her head.
No, this wasn’t an ‘I know exactly how you feel’ head-shake and eye-roll combo, this was a ‘shut up you over paranoid moron’. I put my head down. I felt embarrassed. I felt stupid and I felt angry.
This woman didn’t know me. She didn’t know my past or my current situation. She didn’t know how bloody hard I have tried to be the absolute best mother I know how to be. She didn’t know how often I beat myself up about my perceived failings. She just looked at me and openly judged me.
I know everyone goes through this. It’s an unfortunate side-bar of life – people judge us ALL. THE. TIME. but some of us are a little more vulnerable than others. How can you tell? Well, see here’s the rub – you can’t.
Just because someone seems confident and happy doesn’t mean they’re not falling apart on the inside. Nowhere is this dichotomy more evident than in mothers. The face most of us put on for the rest of the world at times bares little resemblance to how we’re really feeling.
Looking back I wish I had told that woman why I yelled at my husband. That my scolding came from a place of fear and deep love. I would’ve told her that I actually don’t yell (not really) and that my husband and don’t argue (that much).
I would’ve told her that I’m not a bitch. I would’ve told her that just because I might not look like I know what I’m doing… actually, I don’t know what I’m doing. But that’s also OK, because none of us really do.
But I should’ve have to tell her. I shouldn’t have to say anything. I shouldn’t have to justify my paranoia or my fears. Is caring too much about a 19-month-old a bad thing? I don’t think so.
Come back to me if I’m still as neurotic when G is 19 years old, then we might have a problem.