I’ve heard this phrase a lot recently. Particularly in the past week. Because just as Poppy started to make a recovery from chicken pox she came down with an even more troublesome childhood condition – the terrible twos.
I’d somewhat naively hoped we’d skipped this phase once Poppy safely cleared two and three months, but two public scream-offs at the weekend (one in the serene surroundings of a National Trust site and another in our local Costa) made it blatantly clear, we had not been spared the joy of toddler tantrums.
Now there’s nothing like a screaming, red faced two year old to make you feel conspicuous. And like the worst mother in the world. On both the occasions I mention, as Poppy was whining at full volume with tears rolling down her face, Milly decided to follow her sister’s lead and join in with the scream-fest and pushed to my limits, I added my own contribution of screeching to raise the volume yet further. Yes, I was THAT mother. The one non-parents pledge never to become and the one more experienced parents look on at with knowing pity and thank their lucky stars they have passed the toddler stage.
Now in this situation, as the tantrum hits fever pitch, all you want to be is as invisible as possible. If you are unfortunate enough to be a bystander at such a scene, the best thing you can do is pretend you haven’t noticed what’s happening. I know, it’s a big ask considering the drama that’s unfolding in front of your eyes, but it really is the kindest gesture you can offer.
On the other hand, what you most definitely, 100% don’t need during these moments are words of advice. No way. So when an elderly lady decided to approach me at the peak of one of the aforementioned melt downs, tapping me gently on the shoulder to say, “have you tried singing to them dear”… well let’s just say I’m glad my mum was around to respond on my behalf and quietly guide the offending pensioner away from the scene. Because, you know what, strangely enough bursting into a calming rendition of ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ was the last thing I wanted or felt capable of doing at that very moment.
Thankfully these moments of horror are very few, far outnumbered by the joyous times and relatively short-lived in duration. With this to comfort me, I’m trying to forget the tantrums rather than dwelling on them, instead flipping my focus to the everyday victories of conquering daily life as a mum to a toddler and a newborn. So the moment when a lady tapped me on the shoulder in a supermarket car park after completing a surprisingly stress-free grocery shop this week to say, “I just want to congratulate you on how well you are managing,” put a huge smile on my face. You see, being bombarded with advice when things are going catastrophically bad makes you feel conspicuous when you least want to be, but being acknowledged so generously when things are going well is something that you cherish.