I took my daughter to her swimming lesson last week, we always go a little early so that she can have a play in the soft play area with her swimming friends beforehand. I hadn’t been there long when one of the mum’s completely lost it with her child and started shouting at the top of her voice. I glanced over and realised that the woman who was shouting was in fact a popular soap star. At this point all the other mums went silent as they looked over and the penny dropped as to who this person was.
The mum carried on shouting at her child then took him by the shoulders and shook him in her rage.
After the crazy few hours of swimming lessons, tea, bathing and bedding two children were over I sat down and thought about this mum.
After my initial shock of the whole ordeal and my instant judgement of her, I tried to imagine why she had lost it in such a way and why she wasn’t really aware that a whole cafe of mums had recognised her and were watching her. I pictured her getting up at the crack of dawn, driving to work, getting on set, filming her long, sometimes emotional scenes, driving to school, picking her children up, getting them to the swimming baths, finally sitting down to have 5 minutes to herself and….. BOOM, her child does something wrong that pushes her over the edge.
As much as I didn’t condone her behavior, and couldn’t get the image of her shaking him out of my head, I still felt compassion towards her and wondered how she now felt about her lack of control in that situation. I wondered if she too was sat on the sofa with a cuppa/glass of wine and was reflecting back on the incident and felt guilty at her reaction.
I started to think about how I react to bad behavior from my children in public, and I could only really recall one incident in the 4 years of having children where I had been at breaking point.
I’d taken my daughter, right on the last minute, to get a school jumper from the only shop in the area that provides all the surrounding schools with their uniform.
On this day it was crammed full with other mums, all regretting being on the last minute too, and lots of hot, bothered children trying on various sized uniforms.
My task was simple, all I needed was a nursery jumper in age 4, pay for it and be on my way. My daughter had other ideas. She absolutely refused point blank to try the sweatshirt on and ran off round the shop shouting and creating at the top of her voice. People in the shop were stopping to watch the fuss and I was getting hot and flustered and my one year old was getting very bored. I was at the brink of loosing it, but the fact that there were so many people around me stopped me from exploding. Once I’d caught her, I took my daughter outside and dealt with the situation away from everyone else.
This lead me on to thinking about how I react to situations in my own home, when no-one else is watching. As much as I would like to say that I manage to keep my cool, I actually don’t. I’ve never taken my children by the shoulders and shaken them, and i hope that I never get to that point where I do, but I do occasionally shout so loud I sometimes scare myself!
This really challenged me. How come I’m able to keep my cool when I’m out and about but in my own home it’s a different story?
Well, the answer is because I care about what people think and I’d like to think people see me as a mum who has everything under control and never looses it!
After coming to this conclusion I’ve now set myself a challenge: I need to try and be more controlled in my home and other ‘safe’ environments where its easier to react in a way that later I will regret.
I do feel sorry for the ‘star’ mum at swimming because there are times when I have seen other mums get to that point with their children, but I don’t think I’d recognise them again. Unfortunately for this mum, I think I will always remember this incident whenever I see her face on tv or a magazine. I really hope that she went home and reflected, learnt from it and moved on. And I also hope that the other parents at the swimming baths that day didn’t judge her too harshly. After all none of us are perfect, we just sometimes pretend to be.