I could, if prompted, dedicate a whole book to tales of trips, outings and unforeseen situations that have all ended in the same way – with me feeling (and looking) extremely flustered. ‘Mlustered’ I like to call it, as in mum-flustered.
You can spot a mlustered woman a mile off. Red in the face, sweating slightly, her children will be kicking off and she will without a doubt be carrying something bulky that is not easily manoeuvrable in public spaces. She will also often have forgotten to pack something vitally important to the success of the day. In the newborn days, mums get mlustered because they can’t function for more than an hour without having to whip a boob out and because they travel loaded with the kitchen sink (usually before they have a crack at a baby carrier or sling). As things progress, the regular feeding pit-stops become less of an issue and are replaced with the child’s own demands – being bored/tired/fed up/determined to ruin Mummy’s day (delete as appropriate).
There have been a couple of instances of my own public mlustration (can it work as a noun?) that really stick in my memory, and a lesson that I have learned somewhere between the two.
The first is Swimgate – the day I took my son swimming on my own and ended up trying to balance a semi-naked and screaming child in one arm whilst negotiating a faulty locker and trying to stop the pram from obstructing the lifeguard with the other arm. Juggling children and objects is never ideal at the best of times, and on this occasion my sense of urgent panic was exaggerated by the fact that ten months post-labour I was still sporting my maternity swimwear (for comfort reasons, obviously). My intended strategy had been to nip straight into the water without drawing attention to the ‘state of things’. Instead I caused a flustered spectacle at the lockers, right at the side of the learner pool, and ended up practically running to get in the water after feeling twenty pairs of eyes on my dimply white thighs.
The second 'incident,’ and this happened only recently, was Winegate - which unfortunately did not involve me drinking copious amounts of wine. This was the day that a quick trip to Tesco Express started with me bribing an absolutely hysterical child with some bread (standard), and culminated in me knocking over the red wine display by the till as I unwisely tried to shimmy through carrying the basket and change bag whilst pushing the pram. Cue a big smash followed by what looked like the aftermath of a massacre and the cleaners having to close down the entire self-service area to deal with my mess.
Winegate sticks in my head not because I was mortified (as I rightly should have been), but because I found myself to be surprisingly unflustered. Jesus Christ it was funny, and I delighted in feeling so unaffected by the PDE (Public Display of Embarrassment). It’s as if somewhere between Swimgate and Winegate I have built up a filter of not giving a s**t. Long may it continue.
The Unmumsy Mum