We saw you today, passed you in fact, as we were out on a ‘walk’ with our toddlers.
You were pushing a brand new pushchair around with a bundle of joy inside with your mother at your side. We saw the look in your eyes and in your face. As a moment of Deja view, we saw our past. In that instant our past dreams and current realities collided in a cataclysmic explosion.
In your quick expression and glance at our daughters, we saw you think: “That’ll be me one day – Walking around with a friend, our children playing together nicely up ahead. I can’t wait till that day”.
We looked like we had our shit together
To her, we were the vision of a perfect future. In that snapshot, she saw two mums chatting and two daughters walking ahead nicely. We looked like we had our shit together. That things get better.
In reality, we did not have our shit together. In fact I think we stood in it a while back on the never ending walk.
To the untrained eye, in that moment our children looked like angels. For those that had been following our walk would have seen a completely different but very ordinary story:
It started with our very own unrealistic expectations of going on a walk with a toddler. With scooters. In our head, we were creating a beautiful situation where the girls could get some fresh air and we could catch up.
The reality? The girls rarely have 10 minutes free from playing a game of ‘tag, I’ll be crazy for the next 15 minutes and demanding cuddles/snacks/being carrying around’.
This week, our walk started with the slowest scooting you’ve ever seen in your life. “Look mummy, a tree”. Yes, there are MANY trees/bugs/flowers that apparently need stopping for a close up examination.
Now, I love seeing the enthusiasm for the everyday item from my daughter. It’s beautiful isn’t it? But there is only so much feigned enthusiasm you can show when you have a fair walk to go. There’s only so many distraction techniques you physically have inside to try and push them onward before you run out of juice.
The scooter was confiscated
With patience wearing dangerously thin – and a fair walk to go, the scooter was confiscated. Which meant that of course I was carrying her scooter around for the duration of the walk like a human buckaroo.
This also meant that we had a meltdown over said scooter as she wanted to scoot. Although she obviously didn’t want to scoot as the world was too magical to look at.
Next up, when we’d just gotten over that hurdle and started to walk nicely, cuddles were demanded.
Her friend also interjected at this point to ask for snacks, cuddles and to be carried from her mummy. The girls had obviously had words earlier as Georgia had pulled that exact stunt with me the week before. Which meant that I was carrying around a 2 stone toddler halfway around a wood. Unfortunately my Fitbit did not give me any extra points for my orangutan armed effort with that one.
We then also had a meltdown in the middle of what should have been a distracting activity of going over a rope bride… not the safest place to have a meltdown we can assure you.
You saw our interlude
What you saw was the 2 minute interlude in the above mayhem that is our everyday lives. When they were mildly distracted from their current whine.
But we’ve been you.
We used to take this walk together when our daughters were in pushchairs – while they were all drifting happily in a deep sleep – and we’d dream of how nice it would be when they were older.
What we were forgetting was how GORGEOUS it is when they’re in their pushchairs. When you only have to push around a pushchair and not have to constantly shout out to not do this, not do that, to walk quicker, to not fall into a ditch. To not lick a stone.
We spent so much of our maternity leave on such walks, in our sleep-deprived state dreaming of what’s next. We forgot to really cherish how important that stage was. One child. One pushchair – not lumbering along, struggling with a bag, a scooter and various ‘things’, sometimes including a toddler.
We had that look once
So in that moment, we recognised your look. We had that look once too. We saw people out with their well-behaved toddlers and thought – Yes. That will be us.
To a certain extent it is us. For about 10 minutes on our 100 minute walk (this walk used to take us 15 minutes with just pushchairs), the girls were perfect. They were playing at running ahead. They were holding hands and being cute. They were letting us breathe and compose ourselves a little.
That’s what you saw.
You saw us looking content because we were having a very rare moment of peace in an otherwise chaotic life. You saw us gulping for air and cherishing the moment.
Don’t worry. It’s not all doom and gloom. With all the extra worry and literal baggage that comes with going on a walk with a toddler, there’s also some magical moments that make it all worthwhile.
What makes up for all of the rubbish things that happened on the walk – other than the 10 minutes of running ahead nicely together – was this statement from Georgia at lunch:
[Said while holding a shoe that she’d just taken off to her face:] “This isn’t a trumpet.”
No darling. It’s not.