Today I was That Shrieking Mum. You know the mum I mean. The mum who’s hair is messy, eyes are wild, and child is hysterical. The mum you see chasing down a supermarket aisle hollering at her wayward daughter, then wrestling her kicking and screaming into a trolley seat. The mum who makes a scene at the checkout when her daughter tantrums.
I was the mum you watch and think… she should have handled it like this. She should have handled it calmly. She should have, she should have, she should have. If it was my child I’d have done this… or that… or something else.
Well that’s awesome for you. But I didn’t do it your way. I did it my way. And it sucked. It absolutely sucked but there’s nothing I can do about it now. Because it’s done.
I was That Shrieking Mum.
I lost my rag
She had whinged and moaned about getting out of the pool. Fought me about getting dressed. Cried about putting on her coat. She kicked off because she wanted a drink they didn’t have, she howled because I put her ketchup in the wrong place on her plate. When I told her to get up off the floor and sit in her chair she bolted. Just fucked off. Legged it.
Fortunately my mother was with me as the baby was asleep in the pram and I had to peg it after her at top speed. Had I been trying to wheel the pram with me at the same time I genuinely don’t think I’d have caught her.
Fortunately we were in a supermarket café so she didn’t make it to the street but she vanished into the Saturday shopping crowds whilst I raced after her screaming. I caught her and, shaking violently, put her over my shoulder and took her back. She cried and howled and I could hardly speak, other than a cursory “You must NEVER run away from mummy!” lecture as I had finally grabbed her arm.
She refused to eat lunch. She knocked her drink over then cried because I wouldn’t let her sit on the wet seat. She screamed for my mum. She wouldn’t look at me, let alone acknowledge when I spoke to her.
She complained about sitting in the trolley, she tried to kick me whilst I pushed her. She howled that she was bored and wanted to get out. She moaned and whinged and whined.
When I came to get her into the car she fought me and she fought me hard. We were saying goodbye to my mum and she didn’t want her to go. She wrestled me. I pinned her into her booster seat and wrestled the seatbelt across her. When both girls were secure I shut the car door and, listening to her screaming and shouting from inside, I stood in the falling snow and forced my breath to slow.
When I came to drive away she pulled her arm out from the seatbelt and definitely screamed at me that she had done it.
I lost my rag.
I screeched the car over and pulled into a taxi spot at a funny angle. Shouted at her to put her arm back in the seatbelt. She kicked her foot at me and roared NO at me, her face red and her eyes full of tears.
I flung open my door and got out, pulling her door open to force her back into safety, shouting as I did it.
My mum, who hadn’t got far, came hurrying over and told me to calm down. Offered to take Rose for the night. I refused the offer, told her I knew I was making a scene but that I’d had enough. She said she understood and gave me a hug.
I got Rose strapped back in and we headed home. For a whilst she busied herself screaming at me that she doesn’t like me (you don’t have to like me, darling) and that I’m not her friend (I’m not trying to be your friend, dear, I’m trying to be your mother) and that she doesn’t want to play with me ever again (that’s fine, sweetheart, this behaviour doesn’t make me keen to play with you either). Then she broke.
She sobbed and sobbed that she’s sorry, that she loves me, she likes me, I’m her best friend and she does want to play with me every single day.
We are fine now. She was golden this afternoon. I stopped being That Shrieking Mum and normality descended. Because her normality is lovely. Strong willed and stubborn but lovely. Sweet and kind and smart and funny and lovely. But sometimes? Sometimes she’s a little monster.
I don’t judge shrieking mums. I see them all the time looking harassed and tired and frustrated as their children scream about the colour of their shoes or not liking their food or refusing to walk. I see them losing their shit and shouting “JUST GET IN THE CAR!” as their child tries to escape and they wrestle them through the door. I see the shrieking mums and I remember that last time I was in their clan.
It doesn’t happen often but my gosh when it does. The fear of her vanishing cracks away at a huge chunk of my calm. The whinging about everything from the brand of cereal I buy to the colour of the apples I choose claws at another bit. The screaming as I try to get her into the car leaves me with dregs. Everybody has an a collection of calm to last time the day. Today my allotted amount was gone by 1PM.
Fortunately when I got home the fella handed me a glass of wine, took the baby out of my arms, and let me curl up on the sofa with Miss Rose whilst we watched Legend of Everfree and regrew out calm resources.
So Shrieking Mums, I promise there is at least one face in the crowd who isn’t judging you. Because I’ve been there. And today I was there.
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Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!