I just read a piece by a friend of mine from a parenting site, entitled ‘Why we should all show a bit more sympathy for the moody mum with a pushchair’. Brilliantly written, this piece explains that, when you see a moody, tired mum who runs you off the pavement, she likely does not even know or register what she is doing. She is utterly exhausted and we should try to have some patience and empathy. It makes perfect sense to me and I’ve been there.
However, when I read the post, I thought the same thing I do when I am out and about without my children, and encounter ‘Moody Mum with Pushchair’. It puts me immediately back in the moment when, in the first few weeks after my daughter Liberty was stillborn, I was forced out the house by my family to go for a walk with them, (or later, when I forced myself), on my own. I was on maternity leave with no baby, wondering how the hell I was supposed to either grieve or continue my life. Neither of which I wanted to do. You see, you have this sense of total unreality after trauma and death, and it is supposedly a tried and tested method, to venture out the house for a walk, in order to try to understand that life goes on. Which you resent, (the walk and the fact that life goes on.)
In those days, and for months afterwards in fact, whilst I was, (unusually), walking around my neighbourhood during the working week daytime, I would encounter and sometimes be run off the road by ‘Moody Mum with Pushchair’. These encounters were extremely hard for me. I imagined ‘Moody Mum’ was probably thinking ‘Lucky you – fancy free, and getting some sleep’. I certainly wasn’t getting any sleep because there are a million reasons to be sleep deprived, that don’t involve having a live baby. In my best moments, I would try to acknowledge to myself that ‘Moody Mum’ has no idea who I am or what I am dealing with, and that ‘Moody Mum’ has her own troubles of which I am equally ignorant.
My blog isn’t about me telling you everything that is terrible for me in my world and asking for sympathy. We ALL need to acknowledge each other’s different experiences and journeys and respect them with equal value. It is in no way helpful for each of us just to shout about our own troubles from our own corners and create tribes. Let me tell you the temptation to do this when you have experienced, ‘The (alleged) Worst Thing That Can Happen To A Human/Parent’, and then you are run off the pavement by a woman with a baby in a pushchair, is great, and yet tragically unhelpful to everyone.
Human suffering does not have a league table. Let’s all try not to run each other off the emotional road, regardless of what we are suffering. Or at least try to do our best at any given moment.