Don’t mind me, I’m just having a ‘mumtrum’

Mumtrum: Definition: Mother in danger of Losing Her Grip after encounter with small children (usually her own).

I recently visited Dublin Zoo with my husband and our two year old daughter. I spent the previous evening carefully planning snacks, clothes, footwear etc. It’s fair to say I was feeling all kinds of smug and pleased with myself as I packed the car with two bags; one with extra supplies and one that I could carry with me around the zoo.

This smugness was to be my downfall.

All was going well for the first hour; there were treats and animals and my daughter even sat in her buggy without screaming — a practically unheard of occurrence in our family.

Then the fussing began.

I checked my clock. Twelve o’clock. High Noon. Nap-time. I had half expected this so suggested we stop for our lunch; hoping a quick energy boost might get us another half hour or so. I lifted my daughter up for a cuddle then discovered she was wet. Not just wet, her entire bottom half was saturated. How had I not noticed this? Still no problem I thought, straight into Super-Mum mode. A quick rummage in my carefully organised bag revealed no spare clothes or nappy sacks or….wait for it nappies! I had left almost everything that we would actually need back in our car. Ten minutes away in the car-park.

A heroic run by daddy, rice cake bribing by mummy and a flustered change in the (actually quite nice) changing area later and we were set. Or so I thought. As we sat down to eat I heard a noise; a very familiar, very unwelcome noise. I looked up. I knew that face. Not two minutes in a new nappy and she was pooping. She merrily ate her chips, announced to all and sundry about what she was doing then went red-faced for a brief few seconds before settling down to her lunch. Thanks so much kid.

The next change involved two parents, a lot of screaming, another change of clothes and lots of poop.

Another couple calmly changed their baby while we performed our version of the Exorcist.

They fairly ran out the door the minute they finished.

Yet, despite clear signs the day was beginning to turn, we stayed! We kept going! What were we thinking? The final straw for me was a mad flight to see the giraffes with my husband pushing the buggy at a crazy pace and me following behind, muttering about how bad an idea this was.

By the time we arrived at the African Plains I had zero interest in the giraffes. Neither did my daughter. She was too busy taking off her shoes and playing in the gravel. It was time to go.

So I scooped my daughter up. She went rigid — do they teach this in Toddler School? Seriously, every toddler I have ever dealt with does this rigid arms and legs manoeuvre when confronted with an adult who is trying to lift them. I tucked her under my arms (with great difficulty), signalled to my husband that we were done and pushed my way through the wave of people coming up the path after us. Most of them, perhaps recognising the look of a desperate mama, jumped out of the way. The others…well I apologise if you were in Dublin Zoo on a Saturday in August.

We returned to the car to find that, somehow, my girl had ended up wet again. Turns out, after we tackled her back into the buggy, she had upended her water cup on herself.

I volunteered to change her while my husband put all our bits and pieces in the boot of the car. That’s when the s*** really hit the fan.

She danced away from me giggling manically, tried to slap me when I got too close and basically did everything she could to wind me up. You know when toddlers become so tired they actually become hysterically giddy? Yeah she was in that state.

And I was done.

The Mumtrum had me in its grip. I threw the jeans on the ground. Closed the door of the car. Told husband he would have to deal with her and then gratefully let the cloud of red mist cover me.

If, like me, you sometimes have the same level of maturity as a three year old then, yes, you may be prone to having the odd mumtrum. Even mammies sometimes get to the point where emotions swing a little out of control. My Dublin Zoo mumtrum lasted about two minutes before mammy guilt came and nudged it out the door…hello, behave yourself, you are supposed to be the adult here.

I felt bad all the way home (a two hour journey) for getting into such a state. Why couldn’t I just control myself. Mammy Guilt sat on my head the whole trip beating me with the ‘you should do better’ stick. You are the adult. You are the mum. But you know what? Sometimes mums (and dads) f*** up, that’s just life. Apologise, if you think you must, but move on. Don’t spend time beating yourself up over it.

Because guess what? Your toddler has already forgotten and is busy planning her next move — Staying Up Way Past Bed Time.

By Anne-Marie Doherty