Multi-tasking – who says women are no good at it?

While juggling with a 9 pack of loo roll falling out the back of the buggy; a screaming Baby-Bel engaged in a wrestling match with her rain cover; MiL (mother in law) on the phone making arrangements for a 90th birthday celebration and shopping bags in both hands, I came face to face with the ultimate insult. A cashier with clearly little else to occupy her time summoned me over (yes – she actually said, ‘Come over here’, in the assumed persona of a strict school marm). 

For a scary second I thought I was experiencing the beginning of the process of prosecution for shop lifting – the thought closely following was that I don’t have child care so who will assume the role of slave to Baby-Bel while I am undergoing my persecution by the law. But no – a swift rewind and fast forward of my previous 30 minutes reveals no need to panic – every item is paid and accounted for. We didn’t break anything or sneakily put back on the shelves any crushed/ torn/ nibbled at items. 

So what does she want? Instinct tells me to run – the last time anyone issued a summons like that was at school and it spelt inevitable trouble ahead. Obviously, I can’t confess to having been on the receiving end of it but witnessing it aplenty is enough to make me shift uncomfortably. Curiosity gets the better of me. Plus it’s hard to make a quick getaway with a laden down buggy in tow, like a morose mule. I’m still puzzled. She gestures to the packet of batteries Baby-Bel has developed an inseparable attachment to over the last few minutes. Relieved, I’m about to tell her they’ve been paid for as the receipt will testify. But before I even get started, she says threateningly, ‘Take that packet of batteries away from your child – she might eat them’. 

I am positively affronted by her implication that I am irresponsible, stupid, or lacking in concern for my own child – or indeed all three. Stunned by the brazen and uninvited assault on my maternal abilities I mumble something apologetic and stumble to snatch the offending item from Baby-Bel’s grasp. Needless to say, she starts screaming even louder than earlier and I make my hasty retreat towards a walk of shame out the door. 

The fact is the batteries were fully encased in their packaging and I never let her out of my sight AND my child is not one prone to sticking indiscriminate objects into her mouth. Though I admit it’s unlikely to be a contender in ELC’s top toy hitlist any time soon.

It occurs to me that being a parent leaves one in the position of a sitting target for uninvited criticism and comment from any coincidental passerby. Indeed my child rearing skills may leave a lot to be desired but show me a perfect parent and I’ll eat that 8 pack of Duracell myself.


4 thoughts on “Multi-tasking – who says women are no good at it?

  1. No, no, BB&B .. try not to be offended and be grateful instead that other people notice these things and care. Just because your little one hasn’t been prone to putting strange objects in her mouth in the past doesn’t mean she won’t do it in a split second in the future. And just because you don’t let her out of your sight for a second doesn’t mean that you can do that each second of the day – it’s impossible. That’s no reflection on your parenting skills at all – it’s simply life! Weird, horrible inexplicable, freakish tragedies can happen in the blink of an eye . . . do you remember when that child of . . what’s her name .. the actor Jude Law’s ex-wife .. Sadie Frost! when Sadie Frost was with their little girl for another child’s birthday party in a venue which had been used for an adult party the night before. The little toddler was right next to Sadie when she reached down and in a flash picked something up off the floor and stuck it in her mouth. And my god, it was an ecstasy pill! The little girl thought it was candy because apparently it was a bright color. Half of it had dissolved in her mouth before Sadie could get it out and of course hysteria ensued and the little girl was hospitalized and is now said to be fine, thank goodness. The point is that you can’t control everthing in this world, no matter how good at multi-tasking you feel you are (and I’m sure you are a pro at it from reading about all you’ve accomplished in your life). But you don’t have eight hands and eyes in the back and sides of your head. No one would ever doubt you are a fantastic mother and I don’t think that the woman was attempting to comment on your parenting skills – she was rather being more of a Good Samaritan, helping you look out for your child. It’s good that we look out for each other, “strangers” included. Imagine how terrible you’d feel if someone noticed something happening to your little girl in a moment you’d turned away for a split second and did not say something for fear of offending you? Be secure in your knowledge that you’re a great mom and if people offer comments, just try to take them in a spirit of gratefulness that others care and notice things. Your little one will soon be in school and out and about in the world and you won’t be there all the time – it’s people like that woman who will keep her from stepping out in traffic without looking or will help if if she drops something, etc. Be grateful for the “busybodies” and know that they mean well, because they do. P.S. Glad to see you’re still posting; your writing is as enjoyable as ever.

    • Inherently your words make perfect sense, Auntie Violet. The trouble unfortunately is reconciling the rational with the irrational paranoia of being a parent, with all its associated troubles of trial by self-appointed jury… I suspect you have a tremendous talent for spotting the silver lining on all occasions – it’s a great gift.

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