The lead up was big enough in itself. I had decided that I was going to take Bella and I on a little date to the movies. Where I live the local cinema has “mums and bubs” sessions where you can see current release movies and pretend that life goes on after you have baby. Wrong. Well, wrong for me anyway.
Now I really should start by declaring that as much as I thought I would be an “easy-going” mother, I fear I’m more of a nervous nelly. Mothers like me are generally not revered in parenting circles. Not only do we need to breastfeed, co-sleep and parent “consciously” these days, it seems we also need to approach the whole affair with an air of Bob-Marley-come-Miranda-Kerr “zen-ness” which sees these types of mothers slide graciously into their role.
I’m more the neurotic and tearful type of mother which means I literally want to puke up my lunch when I leave Bella for more than an hour or so. I was also the mother that packed a small suitcase to go to the shops when Bella was younger simply because I was acutely afraid that she may want or need something and I needed to have whatever it was with me to satiate whatever that need or want was at exactly the moment it appeared. So you can imagine the mental preparation it took for me to come around to the idea that I could take her to a movie.
The Toolman implored me to go, told me to take some time to do something nice for me. So last night I excitedly made a lunch box for us to take, packed only a few nappies and one small rug and went to bed with the anticipatory excitement of a child before their first day of school. I got dressed this morning in normal big kids clothes as opposed to the mummy uniform I wear everyday and applied makeup. Was definitely on a roll.
It started well. We arrived early, I had a coffee and bought an extra snack to take with us. I didn’t think about requesting an appropriate seat to be with the pram so was allocated one right in the middle of the cinema. Problem you ask? No, I’m all easy breezy you see and I’m just running with it at this stage.
A slight little twinge of anxiety began when other mothers started rolling in and they had all brought newborns asleep in their prams. Not a toddler in sight. Good on them I thought. But then these sadistic nutters who don’t even have kids started rolling in. It was about this time that Bella realised that in the aisles on both sides there were stairs. Ok I thought, no problem, we’ll just go and sit right down the bottom where there is a large area and she can crawl around down there. Sure, I’ll be so close to the screen I’ll get a headache but beggers can’t be choosers, so off we went.
Now dear daughter has realised she can climb a proverbial mountain of stairs, very quickly mind you, right to the top. She hasn’t mastered crawling down yet so she proceeded to teeter at the very top, threatening to make a 15 metre tumble to the bottom. I spent a good fifteen minutes running up and down quietly apologising when people couldn’t see over me. I tried sitting with her on my lap, lying down, standing up. None of it settled her.
Deciding there had to be a better way, I put Bella in her pram which provoked the biggest all out tantrums of the century. In and out she went from the pram for another ten minutes, now in a real state. Knowing she was tired, I tried to feed her and I can now hear whispers of “They need to turn the volume up”. I decided to attempt to get her to sleep outside in the pram and so walked her up and down the theatre entrance for thirty minutes, Bella screaming all the while. Thirty minutes…just ponder that for a moment, thirty minutes.
I’ve never felt angry before. I’ve been sad and tired but never felt outright angry about having a child. Didn’t she realise this would be magnificent if she was just asleep as I knew she actually wanted to be at this hour? Didn’t she realise the effort it took for me to do this? Didn’t she realise I really needed this.
And then I was crying too because I feel like I’ve failed at this. Because I can’t see myself in this anymore. Because I can’t manage what others seem to.
I called the Toolman to vent and he told me that these sessions were made for this type of thing. I shouldn’t worry if she’s crying, everyone will understand.
I hung up on him.
I called my sister and my best friend. No answer.
I looked at Bell staring up at me and felt suddenly a huge divide. I felt like she had won a battle and for the first time I didn’t want to be around her. On top of that, I had let her cry in her pram instead of picking her up which I know is all she really wanted. And then the tears really did flow.
You know those moments in movies (which I of course HAVEN’T seen) where a tearful mums totally disgraces herself in public and everyone around her just assumes she has a touch of post natal depression? Bingo! You’ve really got the picture now.
So we left. I waited in line at the ticket office, tears flowing and asked for a refund. The poor teenage boy wouldn’t dare refuse. We got in the car and came home. As the movie still runs and maybe some or all of the mums are left watching it, I’m here writing this and Bella is blissfully unaware have a nap.
My silly tears are still flowing and it’s all over a movie for heaven’s sake. I’m not really sure what lesson I learnt from it all. I may even be silly enough to try it again one day. I’m starting to think it was silly to even attempt it in the first place.
But most of all, right now, I’m having one of the biggest all out tantrums of my own.