Sometimes my kids will lull me into a full sense of security. We’ll have a good morning. I’ll be bossing it. Everyone is behaving and then I think: I know I’m going to change things up, let’s go for lunch.
I’m talking a cafe that I know that has soft play. Upstairs. A great idea I think.
But this means leaving the buggy downstairs which means I’m stuck carrying the baby, making sure Nives doesn’t trip. The nappy bag and plus the extra lunchbag up the stairs. Then needing to go back down with the babies to order, same thing; carry the baby, try not to panic about the way Nives is clomping down the stairs. Negotiating the queue then the menu. All she wants is sausages and beans. They don’t have this. Finally she settles on cheesy pasta. I don’t even know what I ordered. Cash, no card. Leave the queue. Find a cash point. Get out £30. I don’t know how much I need. My stomach is wound so tight I feel sick. Back in the cafe. Baby is still in snowsuit. He’s starting to lose it. Nives needs a poo. Fuck me. Upstairs. Lay baby on nappy change, take off his snow suit. Nives has poo. Hold baby under one arm while wipe with the other. Wash hands, wash her hands. She drenches herself. Wait for the food. There’s another couple of mums in here. They have babies, maybe a year old. Nives is zipping around on a ride along. I’m so nervous she’s going to crash into the babies. Through all of this Ivan is wailing. He needs to feed but won’t take boob. So I’m intermittently taking my boob out and trying to force it into his mouth while he wails. Food arrives. Food is eaten or dismissed and thrown on the floor (Ivan). The baby starts to cry. I need to leave now. It is getting so claustrophobic, all the new mums are looking. Nives has no shoes on. Put your shoes on. Put your shoes on. Put your shoes on. She is ignoring me. Put your shoes on. She is ignoring me, she’s playing with another baby whose mum is talking to her because she has no fucking idea how hard this is. She’s got a newborn baby she’s on maternity leave she has no idea what’s to come. I want to scream all of them. I just shout “put your shoes on” again and she ignores me. Ivan is now wailing. I just want to get out of there. The walls are closing in. Put your shoes on.
She puts them on the wrong foot. I don’t care. I bark “follow me”. We turn to go down the stairs. There’s a fucking safety gate. I’m carrying a baby in a snow suit, my bag, my coat, her coat and scarf. Nives’ shoes are on the wrong foot. Fuck. As I tug and pull at the gate I hear one of the mums shout “be careful on the stairs lovely, your shoes are on the wrong foot”. It takes everything I have and everything I am not to turn around and spit in her eye. Gate open, downstairs. Ivan is now screaming. Everyone on the cafe downstairs turns to stare at me. Nives wants a cake. I tell her she can’t have one. She did not make the right choices, she doesn’t get cake. She screams. Both of them are crying. I try and change her shoes, she falls over. There are so many buggies we are in front of the path to the kitchen and the guy is yelling over our heads to try and get the food out. Everyone is looking at us now. I want to say I don’t care, but no one wants this and I’m only human. Shoes are on the right foot. I leave, running over someone’s bag with the buggy that’s been left in the aisle as I do. I don’t care. I have the exit in sight. Door open, out we go and … breathe. Nives still crying. Ivan has stopped. This was lunch.