It's been one of those days. I feel like that rubbish parent who some people cast a withering glance at before inwardly thinking 'thank God that's not me' or something along those lines before avoiding eye contact and quickly moving away. One thing's for sure it certainly has NOT been my most mindful of days.
- It was my twins who were shouting and screaming so much in the street that another Mum commented that she could hear them from all the way down the road.
- It was my twins who were beating each other up in the buggy (who knew hair could be pulled so effectively in a side-by-side buggy?!).
- It was my twins who were running amok at playgroup frequently having to be told to use their 'gentle hands' as they battled with other toddlers who dared to get in their way.
- It was my twins who refused to sit at the table in the cafe, instead setting up camp on the floor and then running around screaming 'no' at me whenever I tried to persuade them to eat some lunch.
- I was the woman pushing a screaming child in a pushchair while nearly dropping/carrying another screaming child who refused to get into the pushchair around the streets of Lewisham when most toddlers would have been napping.
- I was the woman abandoning the buggy in the middle of aisles in Sainsburys so I could quickly 'grab' things to get the clearly upset children out of the shop as quickly as possible.
Basically I was the woman who felt judged today.... ALL DAY.
By other parents, waitresses, by shop assistants, by other shoppers. Put simply by the general public of south-east London.
If anyone had cared to listen I would have told them that toddler twins are great but TOUGH when they're both 'on one' and I'm sorry but I really don't have eyes in the back of my head especially as we're all a bit grumpy having been up since about 5am each morning this week. I might also add that I'm tired after a half term of teaching teenagers, that twin two is refusing to eat her meals holding out for snacks and so I'm trying to be more mean disciplined trying to wean her off her diet of Pombears, oatcakes and bananas. Oh and my final defence would be that we have work going on at home today which makes it difficult to just 'hang out' in our own space because of the twins' curiosity in all things sharp and heavy.
And yet when I have time to give myself a little time and space and show myself some self-compassion this mindfulness mantra pops into my head:
THOUGHTS ARE NOT NECESSARILY FACTS.
So what does this mean?
It means that the parents who I thought were annoyed by the antics of my little ones may have just been thinking 'there's another toddler acting like er.....well..... a toddler'.
It means that the waitresses who I thought were cursing me under their breath for being a bad mother may well have been thinking 'oooh those kids are being a bit loud today, but they're usually fairly sweet, they must be having a bad day'.
It means that the shop assistants who in my mind condemned me and my children as being a 'nightmare family' were almost certainly thinking more along the lines of 'here's another harassed mother trying to get in and out of the shop as quickly as possible'.
It means that the other shoppers who I believed were immensely irritated by my screaming children and massive buggy were probably not really tuned into their volume or the space we were taking up at all.
Ok so SOME people may have judged me and my family today. SOME people may even have wished we hadn't chosen the same cafe as them to have our lunch in but I'm pretty sure that, contrary to my imaginings, the whole of south-east London is not talking about that horrendous mother and her children.
Clearly my thoughts ran away with me today. However in a more mindful moment I am able to reflect and remember that these thoughts are just my thoughts, not the universal truth.
And do you know what? This is an immensely helpful phrase for anyone out there who tends to thing the worst and who feels like others are thinking the worst too.
The more we remind ourselves of it, the better we will feel.
This is a revised version of a post I first published earlier this year on my blog. I hope parents who are, at times, finding the summer holidays a little testing will find it useful.