What I wish I had said to the stranger in the cafe

Greggs in Dereham. Picture: ADAM LAZZARI

Greggs in Dereham. Picture: ADAM LAZZARI - Credit: Archant

In her latest column on parenting issues VICKI COCKERILL, from Dereham, writes about the anxiety many mothers feel when out in public...

Vicki Cockerill, parenting columnist. Photo: Vicki Cockerill

Vicki Cockerill, parenting columnist. Photo: Vicki Cockerill - Credit: Vicki Cockerill

To the mother I sat next to last week,

I was sitting having a coffee wasting some time before I had to get my youngest from the childminder.

I saw you at the till and looked up at you when you came to sit down with your daughter and partner.


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I could sense the apprehension you had as you looked around the room.

I knew this feeling well.

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The feeling of wondering how and when your child would kick off and throw a tantrum that would bring the place to a standstill.

Your little girl was full of excitement at the prospect of getting her hands on her cake and of course did not want her lunch.

You calmly told her again and again she had to eat her lunch.

She began the tell tale signs of a tantrum I was very familiar with. You kept glancing at me being on the table next to you.

I tried to catch your eye to give you a sympathetic nod to say I understood.

You sighed and said you wished you had stayed at home, but you had to get out.

It is so much easier to stay at home rather than deal with the anxiety isn't it?

You were so patient, you stuck to your guns despite the impending meltdown before you.

All the tricks were put into play, but none were working I knew you just wanted to leave.

I could feel your tension radiating and the worry of the others looking and beginning to turn around.

I had to go but something has played on my mind ever since.

I should have said something, I wanted to so desperately to help you out in some small way.

I have been where you have been.

I was the mother of the naughty child out of our friends, the one who didn't sit still, or was too loud and threw a wobbler when he didn't get what he wanted.

It does get better, not much consolation now but it does.

I enjoy trips out with my eldest so much now.

I have all this to go through again with my youngest.

Now and again the kindness of someone made it seem so much better when you're deep in the trenches fighting an unruly toddler.

As mothers I believe we should support one another not judge. After all it takes a village to raise a child.

I wish I had just said to you it's okay.

That you're doing great, you got out and came out in public despite your anxiety.

The strength you displayed sticking to your guns despite it being easier to give in was amazing.

The racing heart, the flushed face and the rising flustered panic feeling when you child is screaming is one I still get today.

The fear that in that snap second everyone is judging you as a parent.

Before kids, I probably would have too.

Now a parent of two, I get it.

I feel I let you down.

I should have said something.

Never fear the looks, the judgement everyone was a child once or probably has been in your situation at one time or another.

It is their problem not yours.

This is not a reflection on your parenting. Hell half the time those small humans we created are wild.

So, to the amazing mother in Greggs whose child really did want that doughnut, you are doing great and in the spirit of #MMHAW1 next time the coffees are on me.

From a mum of two whose kids have had their fair share of public meltdowns too. ?

Vicki Cockerill is a NICU/ CHD Mum of two boys, a freelance blogger and social media adviser, Co Founder of #knackeredandNorwich social club and maternal mental health advocate.

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