Mum like no one’s watching

Mum like no one’s watching

Apparently I have always had an issue with people looking at me. My mum said when I was tiny I would say “Mummy, why are they looking at me?” when out in town. She would say “because you’re so pretty sweetheart” (Mums always know what to say) but of course I didn’t believe her. As I got older and she got less patient she would say “Stephanie, people don’t care about you! They’re too worried about themselves.” But this worry of what other people think of me has remained.

When I brought my new born home I honestly felt I was on some sort of Big Brother new mum cam with a panel of Health visitors and midwives in some sort of forced torturous Gogglebox episode. I found any visits by professionals as stressful as previous OFSTED inspections – only I was in my pyjamas this time with one tit out.

Years later with my two year old and four year old boys I still have daily moments where I wonder who is looking and what they are thinking. My youngest has developed a new habit where he likes to buckle at the knees anytime he’s remotely unhappy. He reminds me of those wooden stocking fillers you used to get of a donkey – where you pressed the underside and the legs would collapse. He does this anywhere and everywhere, adding a skull throw down to really get the full effect. On mud or concrete – the choice is his.

When he does this I look around to see who my audience is. If I am really lucky it’s a fellow parent who I can roll my eyes at and they giggle at the ways of toddlers. If I am unlucky it’s an elderly Gentleman who almost holds his nose as he walks past worrying he’s going to catch something from my feral lot.

On the school run I walk down a gridlocked main road and see all of the people in cars watching us – my two boys just seem to draw attention. If I am lucky they hold hands and I see them cooing and ah-ing and I feel a burst of pride – look at me mummying really well!

However, the weight of worrying about other people’s opinions can’t be sustained. I retrace those wise mum words “people don’t care about you. They’re too busy worrying about themselves.” Maybe, as always, my mum is right.

I certainly hope so as I had to drag my youngest home by his reigns like a demented Dachshund after he removed his shoes, in the pissing down rain, as I tried to conduct an important telephone call and my eldest screamed because I wouldn’t let him hold his God damn chocolate egg. I hope the onlookers enjoyed that one.

Mum like no one’s watching – they don’t care as much as you think. Hopefully.

Don’t tell me I shouldn’t be proud

proud

A while ago I told someone I did something I was really proud of.

They replied with “that’s not something I would be proud of”. I got it.

The thing I was proud of was minuscule … something that required minimal effort or brains. But I was proud of myself because, for me – it was a big deal.

It meant me keeping calm, solving a problem by myself without asking a man or my mummy. It also meant a lot because my anxiety and depression can lead to me throwing my arms up in the smallest of problems and call for someone stronger.

I cried all the way home after that comment. I felt so stupid to be proud of something so tiny – that to others was absolutely nothing! Not a blip on their radar.

Today I did a few things. Firstly – I got out of bed for the first time this half term, properly out of bed. I put make up on and I took BOTH kids out (without a pram) to a Dinosaur thing in a park a fucking age away.

I am PROUD of myself. I am proud for going out – alone. I am proud for getting there. I am proud my son didn’t have any accidents in his pants. I am proud we were all able to manoeuvre the portaloos. I am proud I had wipes in my bag for when my youngest fell in the mud.  I am proud I found something they would both eat.  I am proud I used maps and uber correctly. I am proud we were all just out of the house and clothed appropriately. I am proud of being out of the house.

Yes – there may be many who say “That’s not something you should be proud of.”

But do you know what – I won’t let anyone tell me what to be proud of anymore.

Yes – maybe you ran 10k today, maybe you got a PHD, maybe you won an award… good for you!

I had a wash and took my kids out for a fun day – good for me.

Be proud of yourself! You’re worth it.

 

writing mummy's writing darling

What it feels like to be intimidated by a man

mummy's writing darling

On my way home from work yesterday the news was on in the taxi. The continuing news about the Movie Producer rumbled away in surround sound before the driver angrily switched it off. He announced,

“If these women didn’t want this to carry on then they should have said something at the time! Look at them all now coming out of the woodwork!”

“mmm…” I offered out of politeness. Politeness; sometimes our downfall.

“I think it’s hard when a man is so powerful and intimidating…” I continued.

He continued to disagree with me all the way home and I tried to block most of it out because that very day, at the age of thirty five, a mother of two – I had been intimidated by a man to the point it had made me cry – at work, in front of an even more powerful man.

The man, who was significantly taller and wider than me had been rude, passive aggressive and continued to express his displeasure at me being there. My back was to him, and his colleague (bullies are always better off with an ally) as I heard him talking about me, disgruntled. I daren’t turn around.

In that moment I hated that I was five foot three. I hated that I was wearing flat shoes which made me sink even further into the ground. I hated that I was blonde – I imagined them looking at me like I was some dumb girl. I felt like I had zero status.

Out of God knows where I found myself complaining about him to his manager. There wasn’t any courage in this – it probably came from myself finding more and more truth falling out of my mouth the more stressed and exhausted I get nowadays.

And then I knew they were coming, I felt the heat in my neck. I choked and there they were. Stupid tears. Always letting me down. Always making me look even weaker than I am. The man looked horrified.

What the man in the taxi, another large in stature older man, could never comprehend is how it feels to be intimated like that.

I told the taxi driver a man had made me cry at work to which he replied:

“my daughters wouldn’t let a man do that … they’re strong.”

Unfortunately I am not that strong. I could fight a lion for my children … but myself? On a bad day – I would lie down and let it start at my feet.

The little girl in the photograph was told to say yes, respect her elders, respect her superiors, always be polite. Too polite.

The news over the last few weeks has made me think many things. The most honest and disturbing thing being – I can’t say if that movie producer had asked me to get into his hotel room with the aggression he did to that model on the recording –

I’m not certain I would have had the courage to have said no.