After a long and tiring day yesterday, topped off by doing the grocery shopping after LittleBear had gone to bed (actual shopping, in an actual supermarket, as I'd been too incompetent and disorganised to manage an online shop), I slumped on the sofa feeling like a rubbish mother. I'd scolded LittleBear for not listening and not trying when he couldn't understand my explanation of how to swing himself by using his legs. I'd snapped at him for not listening when he didn't stop on his scooter. I'd refused to play yet another game with his sharks in the bath. Basically I'd been tired, irascible and mean all day.
Or had I?
In the spirit of not wallowing in self-pity and recriminations, I replayed the day in my head...
LittleBear and I had got up and had toast and strawberries for breakfast, allowing BigBear a lie-in. We'd then caught the bus to the train station, riding at the front on the top deck, with LittleBear on my lap, my arms around him, my cheek resting on his warm soft head, spotting diggers, buses, ambulances and building sites on the way. At the station we'd been just in the nick of time to catch the train to WorkTown, the next station north from HomeTown. With cunning and foresight, I'd taken LittleBear's scooter with us, so we'd scooted along the river in WorkTown, stopping in the first park we reached for a little snack and a cuddle. Then on to the next park for what felt like an infinite quantity of swinging (my arms still hurt). A pause to scramble around on the climbing frame, followed by more swinging, then a bit more swinging, before a final bit of swinging and then we charged off across the park to sit under the biggest horse chestnut we could find and have another snack, gazing at one of the finest cathedrals in Europe.
By this stage BigBear had got up, had breakfast and driven to WorkTown to meet us, so we convened at the book shop, acquired a book and map about our forthcoming holiday and then settled in at a family-friendly restaurant where LittleBear got to have sausage, chips and peas followed by ice-cream in a cone. He was so exhausted from several hours of scooting, swinging and running, that after a slightly pitiful "when is my food coming?" fifteen seconds after we ordered, he then climbed into my lap and curled up with his head on my shoulder in the warmest, softest cuddle.
Meanwhile, while waiting for lunch we consulted our newly purchased guide book and were able to tell LittleBear all the amazing things we would be able to see and do... play on the beach... hunt for dinosaur fossils... visit the crocodiles at the zoo... ride on a steam train... catch crabs... paddle in the sea... after the first three items he was almost beside himself with excitement, and by the end of the meal he sat on Daddy's lap, guzzling ice-cream and demanding to see more of the things we would be doing*.
Fuelled mostly by chips and ice-cream, LittleBear then scooted at a rate of knots back to the car and then collapsed almost comatose in his seat. Once back home there were more cuddles, games, stories snuggled up with Daddy and then the discovery that we had the old BBC series "Walking with Dinosaurs" on DVD and LittleBear's cup overflowed.
So, essentially, LittleBear's day was filled with all of his favourite things, and he reached the end of it hot, tired and happy, so I don't think I can have been a completely rubbish mother. Then it dawned on me. There's a big difference between feeling like a rubbish mother and being a mother who is feeling rubbish. And it's possible to be a reasonable (if slightly unreasonable) mother even when feeling rubbish. And this morning my two bears let me have a lie-in and I slept the sleep of the righteous until nearly eleven and no longer feel rubbish.
* The Isle of Wight, since you ask. We were torn between Wells-next-the-Sea or Wales for a UK beach holiday. Big Bear declared the former too near to home to feel like a real holiday, and I declared the latter too far away and therefore too tiring and stressful to drive to. So we've ended up going to the Isle of Wight. Makes perfect sense.