It was Wednesday morning and the boys were testing my patience. Now into the 8th week of the summer holidays, which happens to coincide with the last few months of my pregnancy, I am exhausted and running out of ideas to entertain them – especially when the weather is a steamy 45’C+ outdoors.
Wilfred was on the floor playing with his car garage, whilst Stanley had decided he needed a poo. I was enjoying a moment of peace – when suddenly, I heard the lock turn in the bathroom door.
Stanley is 4 and a half now and he has never shown any interest in door locks before – not even so much as a glance. Still, I don’t like the idea of locks at home (even the horror of knowing what they could do was enough to remove them) – but the lock exists on that particular door, as they share their bathroom with guests when they come to stay – and those guests don’t want two boys storming into the bathroom in the middle of their showers and toilet trips (believe me; those boys try every time someone comes to stay).
I guess we got complacent – and whilst I know we have a stack of keys somewhere in the apartment, in the panic of the moment it didn’t even cross my mind to head off and find them.
So what did I do?
In a flap, with visions in my mind of my child discovering something incredibly dangerous in his bathroom (irrational, as the calm side of me knows there is nothing is within reach) or having to call the fire brigade out to break down the door, I shouted louder than I’ve ever shouted in my life for him to open the door.
And then I waited a second or two, before shouting again.
And this time, as I paused the shouting, I heard him scurry off the toilet and run to the door to unlock it.
I flung the door open and I rushed inside – but instead of pulling him into me in pure relief and explaining why I had been so upset, the rage got to me. I put myself down to his level and shouted more. I told him how stupid it was, how dangerous it was, and how he should NEVER, EVER, EVER DO IT AGAIN. If anyone could shout until they were blue in the face, that was me that morning.
Our neighbours probably muted their televisions and paused in sipping their morning coffees, wondering what on earth was happening…
With his mother shouting so angrily, his little face crumpled and tears began to roll down his cheeks like big, fat raindrops – and that’s when I realised how frightened he had been too.
Of course, I immediately regretted my reaction to the whole bathroom-door-locking debacle. I wished I had been the mum that stayed calm, talked her child round, and then sat him on her lap to explain why it had been so silly.
And as I pulled my sobbing, terrified child into me, I wished I could take it back.
I never wanted to be a shouty mum.
But that morning, I was her.
And seeing how much it upset him, I wanted to bury my head into his soft curls and sob too. I wished I’d handled it differently. I wish I’d paused before I let the rage and panic take over.
But since that morning, I’ve had a chance to think. And I’m pretty sure we’ve all been the shouty mum at some point – and with the exhaustion and hormonal dips of pregnancy, I think I can be forgiven.
But next time, I am going to try and stay calm.
After all, I know there will be a next time – whether it’s something as dramatic as a bathroom lock-in or simply losing patience with the boys in the supermarket.
And when it happens, I will try not to be the shouty mum.
Not every time, at least.