Thinking about what people think

I had a tough day at the office today, except I wasn’t in the office, I was at home with the kids (and it wasn’t today either).

There was a lot of whinging and whining. The whining woke the small girl 30 minutes into her nap so she was managing a sleep deficit all day. Which meant that she joined in with the whinging and whining. And so did I. I snapped a few times and said things that I shouldn’t have.

We had jobs to do down town that couldn’t be avoided. I braced myself.

When I was parking the car the lady in the space behind me was telling her two children off for bickering. She sounded exactly like me. I gave a vote of sympathy and we agreed that it must be the humidity, both delighted that it wasn’t just us and taking comfort from that.

I loaded up the buggy, took a boy by either hand and we set about our jobs.

The bank went fairly okay, once I had told Ciarán about the people in the US who have to hold on to a car for days and whoever holds on the longest wins the car. He thought it would be easy so I challenged him to do it with the buggy. It bought me ten minutes of not calling him to stop climbing/come back/take care/slow down. Result.

Things went downhill then. The boys wandered off in a shop, didn’t come back when I called them and then arrived  with all sorts of frivolous things in the basket that I had to fish out. Laoise was getting restless and twisting and turning in the buggy so time was of the essence. I was under pressure.

It was lunch time and I brought them to a  busy self service café to get them fed.

In my experience small boys don’t “do” queues very well. Especially when there are creamcakes within touching distance. I struggled to keep them on the right side of good behaviour. I got quite stern, I felt that I was losing control and got narky with them. People saw and people heard this.

But the people who heard me say my son’s name very crossly as they walked by won’t have known that it was the 9th time I had asked him to come back beside me and he had been ignoring me while people with hot drinks were try to dodge him.

And the people in the line behind us will have heard me press the children to decide what they wanted for lunch, and probably thought I should just have ordered for them. But I knew that if I chose “the wrong thing” that nothing would be eaten, and it was imperative that they eat something right then or the moods were going to get even worse.

But other people in the cafe may have seen us laughing and joking over lunch, Cathal telling me that he “weally” loves saussies and his sister.

Or they may have seen Laoise begging for chips, snots in her hair and shouting when she was denied them.

The may have smiled over Ciarán breaking into “Let it go” and asking questions about how our bodies work.

The couple sitting opposite smiled at us throughout and came over to say goodbye to Laoise and get some more smiles from her, it was clear that they saw the good in us.

Anyone who saw us out and about will have gotten a snapshot, a vignette of our family life. People may have gone home thinking that I have no control over my children, or that I have very well behaved kids, depending on what snapshot they saw.

Yet, it’s only when I’m breaking a sweat that I think I’m being watched, and that isn’t the case at all. I need to remember that.

While I know that I shouldn’t care about what other people think, I do. But I forget that they see the good as well as the bad. They see the cute moments, the kisses that I automatically give my kids without even noticing, the chats that we have, the smiles and the giggles.

So, in an attempt to save my sanity I’m resolving now that every time I stress about a bad moment, that I’ll try to also think of a good moment.

Because if onlookers jump to conclusions about the bad stuff then they must also do it about the good stuff too, right?

And there is good stuff, often. I just need to remember that.


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