To the man in the carpark…

To the man in the carpark,

To the man who looked away when I made eye contact, this letter is to you. We didn’t talk, we didn’t lock eyes for more than a split-second, but I know you saw me. I also know you saw my children. My baby, covered in vomit and screaming, you saw her. My toddler, distressed by his sister’s cries, you saw him. Me, tired of all of this, you saw me. And you looked away.

On that day, my children had refused to nap. It was hot, and my son refused to wear his shoes – they were too tight – toddlers grow fast, you see. And so I bundled them into the car and ‘nipped out to the shops’. Without a full change bag, without muslins and without spare clothes. Jasmin was sick a few minutes before we arrived. It wasn’t a little bit of sick. I opened the back door to a bucket-full of it. All over her seat, all over the back seat, all over her clothes, in her hair, in her screaming wide-open mouth. I lifted her up and I too was covered.

And as I negotiated peeling her vomit-soaked clothes off her, Jasmin clung to me. I balanced her on one hip while also trying to wipe down her car seat. It was already starting to smell. This was when you looked away. Maybe you were really busy and distracted, waiting for someone in the carpark outside the shops.

Jasmin was naked apart from a nappy when I finally managed to buckle her into her buggy. Milin, my darling, sensitive toddler, had calmed down and managed to walk across the carpark with me into the shop to find him some shoes.  And that was how we walked around. Jasmin, naked. Milin, barefoot. Me, covered in vomit.

Of course, once we were inside, two-year-old Milin wanted to push his ten-month-old sister round in the buggy. Of course she was still upset. We walked out of that shop with jelly shoes for Milin. I know they’re not practical, but they made us all smile. I bought Jasmin one of the prettiest dresses I had ever seen, and one she certainly didn’t need. It smelt of sick as soon as I put it on her. It got even more covered in sick once I put her in her car seat, but that dress was still lovely.

You had driven away your big car by the time we got back to the carpark. You didn’t see us emerge from the shops, looking almost respectable.

This letter isn’t to tell you that I wish you had helped us. This letter isn’t to tell you that I’m not usually so frazzled.

It’s a letter to tell you that on that day I was tired. I was so tired. I wasn’t sure if I was going to lose my temper, I wasn’t sure if I was going to hold it all together or shout at my innocent children who had done nothing wrong. I wasn’t sure if I could cope with cleaning up any more sick or diffusing any more tantrums. I wasn’t sure if I could keep answering the ‘why’ questions. I wasn’t sure if I could resist just curling up on the floor and closing my eyes and hoping the world would go away.

I hope you were comfortable in your air-conditioned car and I hope you had some decent tunes to listen to. But this letter isn’t about that.

It is about me realising that for a very short time last week, I felt like everything was turning to shit. I felt like the world was falling apart a little at the seams. For a split second when you looked away from my disastrous life, I hated you.

And then I realised, we all go through crap. We all have rubbish days. We all have our battles. I have no idea why you were sitting in your car. I have no idea of your struggles. You looked away, and that’s ok.

My baby was sick everywhere. My toddler had a tantrum. I wanted to crawl into a dark hole and ignore the world. Instead I had to walk into a shop and buy clothes and shoes for my children. I had to hold them and soothe them and click into that familiar autopilot that is parenting. My life wasn’t that bad though in the scheme of things. The sun was shining, Milin got jelly shoes, Jasmin got a pretty dress. I washed my hair later.

It took me an hour to clean the car seat and it still smells of sick. But worse things could have happened.

To the man in the carpark, thank you for looking away. You made me think about my day a little differently. It wasn’t up there with the best of them, but we all have the bad ones. And while you looked away, I pulled myself up.

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17 Thoughts on “To the man in the carpark…

  1. This sounds like one tough day. And it has happened to the best of us. Kudos for battling on – as mothers must. Don’t know how I feel about those ‘looks’ that people can often give. They have made me want to scream but often – as I now no longer have toddlers- realise they were maybe looks of understanding and recognition and relief that it isn’t them!

  2. Good for you for lifting yourself up hon! Days like that suck big time, but they make anything else seem fabulous :-) My 4yo treated me to a 45 minute meltdown the other day, no idea how we manage to stay sane sometimes…but we do! You’re right, everyone has their battles and we all need to give each other a break. Hope today is a good one for you all xxx #brilliantblogposts

  3. What a shit day. I love all of your posts, but this moved me even more than most of them.
    It took me back to the car park of a supermarket in Italy near the airport after we’d lost a suitcase containing all of our shoes. We went into the supermarket and bought all of the kids fake Crocs. Hours later we were still travelling and my daughter was sick in the car. We arrived at our villa over 30 hours after we’d set off from home. We could have got to New Zealand faster. It was a truly shit day.

  4. Just yesterday when my 4 months old baby startet to scream in the supermarket wrapped on my chest while I was looking for my purse, then also irrirated toddler wanted to climb out the buggy, some man behind me asked me if he could help and I refused. You know why, he had shaky voice and I thought he might be some creep :-(
    Now this post made me feel good and bad about that day. Good because I definitely managed my children, and bad because the world has become such scary place that we don’t trust anyone anymore to have good intentions.

    Thanks for the post. I love the way you write and see the world. Your family’s very lovely and always enjoy seeing your Twitter updates.

    Have a great day!

    Love from Germany :-)

  5. Not A Frumpy Mum on June 19, 2014 at 8:09 am said:

    What a crappy day, I can imagine how you felt at that moment and for a second how much you will have hated that man.
    I remember a few weeks ago we were coming out of the shop, I put the bags in the car, realised I’d lost my bank card, O ran off across the car park and I was frazzled! A woman we vaguely knew walked last at the moment and looked at me as if I was the worst mum in the world and for that moment I hated her too. Hated her for judging me on one split second view of our life.
    A couple of mins later, a trip back into the shop meant my bank card was found, O was safely in his car seat and normality was restored. By that point she’d gone!

  6. This is brilliantly written hun and I actually have tears down my face. I guess I can identify with so much of what you have written. You are right parenting can go into autopilot, it has to sometimes. Well done for picking yourself up xx

  7. Such a brilliant post, love the twist in the tail / tale of it. You’ve left me feeling full of ‘rah’ to take on the world no matter what the niggles and the stresses of everyday life. #BrilliantBlogPosts

  8. I adore your writing and the slant you put on things. Such a talent. You are absolutely right- I try to think of everyones battles if someone doesn’t let me out in a carpark or if someone doesn’t hold the door- who know’s what they are facing. Not always easy though. x
    #BBP’s

  9. Oh, this really moved me, and I’m sitting in a cafe, never good to cry in a cafe! I have been in that exact situation more times than I care to remember. The worst probably being the car park at Boston Logan airport when it was -5C and snowing and we had to strip two children before going and sitting on plane for 7hrs… Or, the time that hubby had to walk off a plane into Houston airport bare chested because his t-shirt was so vomit covered in was unwearable. But, you know what you are absolutely right, and you have made me look at all the times with our travel sick children slightly differently. It’s a small thing, there are many other trying moments that make us feel equally shit, but in the great scheme of things… Not such a big deal. In fact, I actually managed to laugh as I wrote this :)

  10. You write in a way that takes me just to that moment, to those feelings. A wonderful post as always my lovely x

  11. Oh sweetie! I remember when I first read this post (…and couldn’t leave a comment!)
    So glad you linked to #brilliantblogposts so I landed here again.
    …Need to be reminded!

  12. I think every mother has had days like that for sure! Your writing is beautiful, you captured all the emotions that we go through on days like that, I truly enjoyed reading it. Thank you!

  13. Great post which I bet every single parent who reads this can identify with. We ALL have days like this. It’s a good job the good days far outweigh these days.

  14. Crying reading this, I relate so much-my kids both of them had meltdowns in the supermarket the other day and although it was awful, every single person who saw this (and there were many) smiled at me, it allowed me to take some deep breaths and struggle out of there! Thanks for linking up to #brilliantblogposts

  15. Mine are older than that now, but I’ve been there many a time. Those ‘lie down and close your eyes until it goes away’ moments still exist, but without the toddler on the hip and usually with less vomit :)

  16. Pingback: Baby’s first…. Milestones to forget | Mummy Says…

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