What is it about being a new mum that turns the most placid of souls into members of the angry mob? Mum Claire Cole takes a look at ‘parent rage’
Here’s a message to all baby wipe manufacturers: please don’t make packs that take 10 minutes to open with one hand (the other employed keeping my baby from sky-diving from her changing table), and please find a way to ensure that when I try to pull out just one wipe, I don’t get the entire pack trailing out with it. I would be most grateful, and I may even be tempted to purchase your brand again, rather than hyperventilating with anger every time I see one of your ads on television.
You see, baby wipes are one of those clever inventions that are meant to make our lives as parents easier. The packaging always depicts a serene-looking mum and baby who have clearly just discovered the Holy Grail of bum wiping. A more realistic depiction would be a mum holding her screaming baby’s legs aloft while attempting to open the packet with her teeth. At least then we’d know what we were buying into.
Before I had my daughter, I wouldn’t have given a second thought to such user-unfriendly products. But then, before I had my daughter, I was the sort of person who didn’t resent the 15 minutes it took for my ‘fast-drying’ deodorant to dry before getting dressed. The sort of person who actually had 15 minutes in the morning to prance around in my underwear making like an aeroplane in order to avoid unsightly white marks on my clothes. Now, however, unsightly marks on my clothes come courtesy of my four-month-old daughter and have the aroma of sour milk, and I consider it a good day if I actually get as far as applying deodorant.
But before you start thinking I’m some crazy woman with a grudge against baby wipes and deodorant, let me explain. Since becoming a parent, I have become a crazy woman with a grudge against lots of things – this is just the tip of the iceberg. I call it ‘parent rage’: the ability to become angered out of all proportion to actual events, in the belief that either your precious time or your precious baby is under threat.
In the first category, right up there with impenetrable packs of wipes are: sheepskins designed for buggies that are ‘specialist dry clean only’ (like I have time for that); baby clothes that sprout those awful little plastic tags (how many labels do you need on one pair of tiny socks?); and cot mobiles that look beautiful but have to be wound up by hand (so you’re constantly rushing out of the shower, dripping shampoo, to stop your child going into meltdown because her teddies have stopped flying around to the sound of Brahms’ Lullaby).
In the second category, meanwhile, are flies and wasps that come within a mile of Amy’s buggy and people who cough, sneeze, wheeze or simply look a little sniffly within a mile of Amy’s buggy.
I know it’s unreasonable and, as my partner pointed out the other day, adult flies probably also hate humans who drive buggies recklessly when they’re out with their baby flies, but I can’t help it. Call it sleep deprivation or an over-developed protective instinct, but I have discovered hitherto untapped reservoirs of anger towards sweet old ladies who poke their heads into the buggy and breathe their germs over my daughter, or anyone who dares to ride a motorbike or have their car sound system cranked above barely audible as they pass our house. I also find myself biting my lip to stop myself shouting at friends’ kids as they poke their grubby little fingers into my baby’s face and ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ over how cute she is.
When I mentioned parent rage to a friend, she said: ‘I know exactly what you mean – when the kids are driving you mad and you just feel like you’re going to explode.’ But this wasn’t what I meant at all. Because, you see, If I’ve turned into Mrs Angry in some respects, I seem to have developed the patience of a saint when it comes to Amy. Whether she’s waking me up at 4am with that glint in her eye that means, ‘Mummy, it’s time to play’, crying for the dummy I watched her very deliberately spit out seconds before, or screaming her head off in the queue at Tesco, I am the very picture of calm and serenity. Though I’m sure she’s driving the poor mum in the queue behind me to boiling point…
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