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The Unmistakable Sound
’Will you please BE QUIET!’
I stop momentarily in my tracks, the birds take flight, fearful for
I ponder on calling out to you, or inviting myself
I know right now you feel like the worst mother in the world. I
You are a stranger to me. We may live locally to each other, but I rarely walk through this village, I opted for a longer route as I knew I needed more space. I don’t recognise you from the school run, our children have
As I walk back to my own madhouse I am aware of how lucky I
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It’s Sunday evening, the clouds have parted to reveal a golden, Midsummer sky and I am walking. The dog and I have escaped the madhouse to absorb some tranquility, and it is sublime. For the first time today my head is clear, nothing but the sounds of birds, my nostrils filled with sweet honeysuckle scents, my muscles grateful for the stroll. Then I hear it, over the birdsong, smashing the serenity, the unmistakable sound of a mother losing her shit.
‘Will you please BE QUIET!’
I stop momentarily in my tracks, the birds take flight, fearful for their lives, on the opposite side of the village a lonesome dog barks in retaliation, then silence. I see said mother, as I regain my composure, I see her steam through an open stable-style door, apron tied around her neck, tea towel in hand. She marches angrily down the length of the perfect country garden then slumps wearily on a wrought iron bench, head in hands. From inside the house the brief moment of silence is broken by the ruckus sound of children fighting. This mother is a little torn.
I ponder on calling out to you, or inviting myself through your picket gate to sit beside you, but I can tell that the last thing you need today is to feel judged by a total stranger. For whatever reason, on this particular Sunday, your limit has been pushed. As those kids launched into one more World Wrestling style battle, you couldn’t take anymore and you snapped, and I witnessed the consequences. I watch your body shake slightly as you grant yourself the permission to have a little cry and I am thinking, well done Mum, well done.
I know right now you feel like the worst mother in the world. I know that there are other things on your mind, personal problems, and your kids trying to kill each other is just the icing on the cake, but I want to reassure you that you are not the worst, for so many reasons I can see you are doing just fine. Before I escaped with the dog this evening, I was you. Frazzled, tired, trying to cook dinner with an over tired toddler clinging to my right leg. She hasn’t napped today, she should have napped, she NEEDS to nap, but refused it, so as I cooked dinner she turned into the toddler from hell. Screaming, wailing, and choosing to bite her sister when I couldn’t serve tea fast enough, I too wanted to cry out. The first words to come to mind, ‘will you shut the fuck up?’ The words I opted for, ‘be quiet.’ I have to hand it to you, in your moment of doubt you even managed a ‘please’, if that’s not a parenting win I don’t know what is.
You are a stranger to me. We may live locally to each other, but I rarely walk through this village, I opted for a longer route as I knew I needed more space. I don’t recognise you from the school run, our children have probably not mixed, but we are not so different. You are covered in food, no matter the day you are having you still have it in you to prepare a meal, to feed your kids. Small clothes hang, pegged to a washing line, you still make sure those kids are clean and dry. I watch as you dry your tears on that grubby tea towel, pull yourself together and stroll back into that house, calm, composed, and call to your children to wash their hands as supper is in five minutes. You are nailing parenthood.
As I walk back to my own madhouse I am aware of how lucky I am. My husband was at home and when things got too much for me I was able to take a few minutes out. Maybe this Mother does not have anyone today, nobody to take the kids and say, ‘you know what, I’ve got this, take a break.’ From what I witnessed she is coping just fine without it, but that’s not to say she doesn’t need it. Maybe next week I will walk this way again, maybe they will be playing in the garden, maybe I will smile, say hi, and become friends. Then one day, if it gets too much again I can come over and our kids can play together while she has a breather. Whatever happens I certainly hope tomorrow is a little bit easier for her.