Today has been a day of battles. It has also been the reminder that, before becoming a mother, I had no idea of what REAL, nail-biting, tear-inducing, vomit-making stress feels like.
The lunchtime nursery pick-up started as normal. As I drove the usual route I planned an afternoon of painting and snuggles watching CBeebies with my two year old. Rushing into the nursery, I was greeted with positive indifference.
My shining diva child did not want to be collected. She wanted to carry on playing with her friends and didn’t much like the idea of going back to her boring home with her boring mummy.
Stung but undeterred, I shrugged. One battle down, telling myself she’d be fine once we got outside, I kept up the smile and cheerfully ignored my tot’s angry grumbles.
Once outside, I lost the battle of the coat and accepted that my daughter preferred to have the biting cold air nip her neck as we walked across to the car. Drooping under the weight of her bag and general nursery crafty paraphenalia, I swallowed back the rising shouty mum that threatened to make an appearance, as I attempted to stop my toddler running away from me in the carpark. I managed that battle, but the biggest was yet to come.
It took me twenty minutes to get my tired, ratty, fretful toddler into her car seat today. Twenty minutes. Angry at her fun being ruined (apparently playing chicken with cars in the carpark is SO thrilling) and cross at being dragged from her playmates, Frog kicked up the biggest stink I’ve ever known her to pull.
There was hair pulling – so much that big fistfuls of my hair came off in her fingers – and scratching. I was kicked and screamed at. “NAUGHTY MUMMY!” came the shouts, along with, “I NOT GO IN CAR SEAT. I GO IN FRONT! I DRIIIIVE CAR NOW!” She’s nothing if not ambitious.
All the while, I fought the urge to shout back, to lose my temper in front of the playground full of pre-schoolers starting to collect by the fence to see the drama unfold. I pretended not to notice the other mums hastily walking their toddlers past and strapping them without fuss into their car seats. I hid my face from the nursery staff using their best loud jolly voices to drown out the screams of my child.
Inside I was sobbing.
Eventually, after a twenty minute battle – did I tell you it was TWENTY MINUTES?! – the buckles were snapped into place and we could finally leave that blasted carpark. As I drove away, I mentally notched up a point to myself, pleased with my win. The battle of the car seat is not one I’m willing to lose.
An afternoon of rest made things much better. It turns out stress isn’t helped by huge levels of exhaustion, so both my two year old and I had nothing to do but head to bed. On waking, we eyed one another up and offered a conciliatory cuddle. “I your friend now” whispered Frog. I melted a bit.
Half an hour later, another battle was on the horizon. As teatime approached, my toddler spied her beloved Cheerios on the kitchen counter. The whining started, then the little yelps of bossy defiance. And you know what? I gave in. Call me a lazy parent, call me an “under the thumb mum”, but I’m not bothered. Some battles are worth fighting and some aren’t. Simple.
So, my daughter had Cheerios for her tea, followed by a pudding of fishfingers and bean salad. Did she eat all her fishfingers? Of course she didn’t. Did we have a tantrum? Nope. Am I pleased with the way I handled this testing day? Very much so.
I won the most important battle and let the others slide. I’m sure there’s a cliche about winning the war and forgetting your battles or something but, to be honest, I’m too tired to care.
By the way, the annual Brilliance in Blogging awards are now open for business. Nominations are being taken as we speak, so if you’re short of a blog for the Writer or Family (or any category to be honest, I’m not fussy) then you know where I am. Mopping up Cheerios and and attempting not to have nightmares about car seats, that’s where.