Yesterday I had one of those major landmark parenting moments. It wasn’t a birth, the start of school or a graduation. It wasn’t one you’d take pictures of and boast about on Facebook.
But it was a landmark. The kind of thing I think every parent has to go through.
Yesterday I had to stand in the supermarket aisle and shout at my wayward children who had just nearly rammed the trolley into an innocent bystander. The kind of shouting where everyone looks at you, embarrassed for you. Shameful.
The whole trip was ill fated. The kids were tired and bored. I was tired and bored. We had loads to buy and, thanks to a recent reorganisation, I spent a lot of time wandering around passive-aggressively muttering things like ‘stupid bloody supermarket, cheese is dairy, why the hell isn’t it in the dairy aisle? Would that make too much bloody sense?!’
After numerous warnings, one full on shouting fit and subsequent extravagant efforts to show the world what a great parent I was by making the rest of the trip one fun game, we finally left.
‘Never again. Back to online shopping!’ I mumbled as we reached the car.
But as we drove off, I got to thinking. When I was 4 my mum was a single mum of 3 children under the age of 9. She worked, didn’t drive and there was no such thing as online shopping (even now she wouldn’t dare use it after she once accidentally completed a whole online shop only to realise she’d only actually managed to order one block of cheese…!) How the hell did she do it every week? I don’t remember tantrums in the aisles or moaning on the walk home, but we must have gone to the shops because we definitely always had food!
Thinking it through made me realise that it isn’t the big things we do as parents that matter, it’s the little everyday things – just muddling through, making sure the kids are okay and keeping things ticking over.
I always thought my mum was amazing, but I never appreciated how hard she must have worked just to raise us. All the little things I have no recollection of which must have been so difficult – like dragging 3 kids round the supermarket! I’m just embarrassed it’s taken me so long to realise.
So the next time my own monsters whinge about wanting chocolate cheerios (no chocolate at breakfast is the one battle I’m still winning!) I’ll try to remember that in 30 years time they’ll hopefully be faced with their own screamingg little brat and will finally be grateful for what I’m doing.
Thanks mum – and sorry I didn’t say it sooner.