It’s not just you.

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I’d been having one of those weeks – completely consumed by my own miserable thoughts and emotions. Feeling like it’s taking much more effort than it should to just smile. So one night I decided that tomorrow would be an optimistic day! I pre-planned to wake up in the morning, do something fun, FEEL fun, happy, energetic! But things turned dark again and I was ready to revert back to miserable, psycho bitch, until…

My pre-planned happy day (pre-planning to have a happy day eh? Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do!) started off pretty well. Woke up at the crack of dawn feeling pumped! Had a good start to the morning (in this house that means I made it to 9am without getting a plastic chair flung at me, the dog not shitting in a bedroom and not feeling like I’m on the verge of a cardiac arrest). We were dressed, smiling, organised and ready to leave for the Safari Park to see the ‘AMIMAMALS AND DINOSAUUUURS’ (I also pre-planned to try to pass off a Rhino as a dinosaur so Evelyn wasn’t too disappointed).

The drive up there went well. Going in went well. The start of the safari drive went well. (‘This is actually shaping up to be a crackin’ day!’ I thought… too soon, TOO SOON goddamn it!). We eventually got to the Rhino’s *ahem* DINOSAUUURS, and everything was still going great. Well, apart from Evelyn roaring at them out the window; even though we’re in the safe confinements of a car realistically we’re just giant monkeys in a tin box, so it’s not the wisest idea to entice something with a 3 metre-long-fucking-solid-horn towards said tin box – especially when it’s beefy enough to have just took a shite that looks like a brown, steaming Mt.Everest (too much of my life revolves around shit, I’m aware).

But then… she started losing interest. Rapidly things went downhill. Nothing was keeping her attention. She eventually turned her focus on me and the car. Everything was getting pulled and battered – the gear stick, the mirrors, my hair, my legs. ‘LOOK MUMMY!’ She said as she tried to pull the air vent off. There was a massive emu trying to pop its head through the window and say hello but she’s more interested in the air vent? FERRRRRKIN’ typical!

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(It was pretty creepy though…)

She was sitting with me in the front and something important I’d forgotten was that there aren’t child locks on the front doors. I realised this problem when she pulled the handle and swung the door open right next to a live fuckin’ Bongo (as beautiful as Bongo’s are, if you’ve seen the horns on one of those bad boys you certainly wouldn’t go in for a cuddle). After a bout of sheer goddamn shock, I pulled the door closed and then tried to explain to her in the calmest way possible how naughty that was because she could’ve got mummy and herself FUCKIN’ KILLED and then we couldn’t visit the gift shop (obviously I didn’t use those exact words…).

Well now… there’s a word that my daughter DESPISES. ‘Naughty’. She hates the word ‘naughty’ with some crazy 2-year-old psychotic passion. So the switch flipped and the crazy train came hurtling towards me at full speed. CHOO CHOO!!! Now NOTHING was making her happy, thus nothing was making ME happy. I was trying to calm her down. She was trying to hype me up. So much for a happy harmonious day eh?

All’s she wanted from this point on was Peppa Pig and all’s I wanted was her to be happy, so I gave into her demand – out came the iPhone and on came Peppa Pig. After she spent the remainder of the safari drive in the back seat watching cartoons and I spent it depressed feeling like a parental failure AGAIN… our bodies caved into exhaustion and we both fell asleep in our seats in the car park.

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We eventually woke up from our naps, groggy and crazy-haired, grunting and stomping our way out of the car like Neanderthals emerging from a cave. THEN! Then I spotted what I thought would be our saving grace… a birds of prey show starting in 5 minutes! We huffed, puffed and grunted our way past the gift shop, through the mini fair, avoided a collision with a wild peacock and arrived at the birds of prey show just in the nick of time.

We got inside and took our seats. One of their first health and safety warnings is that everyone MUST REMAIN SEATED AT ALL TIMES as these are birds of prey, some low-flying, and they will be flying freely around the room. So as soon as the doors are bolted shut and there is no possible way we can leave until the show is over what does a 2-year-old with a ‘fuck-you-I’m-an-independent-woman attitude’ decide she wants to do at that exact moment? Yep. She wants to jump and run around, once again attempting to get herself FECKIN’ MUTILATED by an animal. (Parenthood, it’s just like a constant battle to keep a small drunk alive).

I explained “I’m sorry babe but you have to stay in your seat or that GIANT ASS BEEFY VULTURE up there will pick you up and EAT’CHU!!” I don’t think they were my exact words, but regardless of what I said at that moment the basis of it is the same – I just told a toddler NOT to do something – cue the crazy train hurtling towards me again. CHOO CHOO!!!

Crying. Screaming. Kicking. I’m looking around the room, THE EMBARRASMENT, THE SHAME! I’m sweating like a whore in church. I feel myself go dizzy, I think ‘This is it. This is how it ends. My autopsy is going to return ‘Wild bird shit found in hair. Toddler claws embedded in skin. Cause of death? MORTI-FUCKIN’-CATION’.

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Just as my brain was about to splatter all over the lovely family in-front I heard the most beautiful sound I could’ve wished to hear at that precise moment. A sound that was sweet to my ears and warm to my heart. The sound that, to this day now, I think has saved my life… The sound of a toddler screaming. A STRANGER’S toddler!

My ears perked up and my eyes darted around the room, looking for the beautiful screaming culprit. Then I discovered something… It wasn’t just my toddler kicking off, nor the stranger’s toddler whose high-pitched wail I’d noticed – there were at least 10 toddlers and subsequently 10 mothers/fathers in that room all having the exact same experience as me. I’d just been so consumed by my own shite that I didn’t notice anyone else’s steaming turd of a day either. You could see the anger brewing in the children’s faces as they were told to remain seated and the stale sweat on the brow of each ‘embarrassed’ and ‘stressed out’ parent. ‘IT’S NOT JUST ME’ I thought.

And so, at the end of that relaxing *ahem* show, we walked out of the room and I had a new perspective on the things around me. I thought back to how shitty I’d felt about our nap in the car and noticed every single person that looked like, given the chance, they’d just grab a blanket and nap RIGHT there. There were dozens of tired eyes, stress lines, wrinkles and frowns surrounding us every step of the way.

As miserable as that sounds at a beautiful Safari Park on a beautiful day, you have to bear in mind that I only noticed because I was looking for it. Had I not been looking they’d have fooled me because through it all, you could tell that they were all doing the same as I was in that birds of prey room – putting on a brave face, ignoring the woes and trying to smile it out no matter what was brewing on the inside.

So just stop. Just breathe. Just look around. Just take a moment to not feel alone. If you can’t see anyone or anything that’s helping you (probably because they’ve fucked off home at that point to drown their sorrows in a barrel of wine) then call someone! Call your parents! Your friend!

“Hey mum, did I ever make you want to tear your hair out and cry a salty river of emotional insanity?”

“Abso-fucking-lutely”

“Hey friend, have you ever felt shit about yourself/had a bad day/generally felt like giving up?”

“Abso-fucking-lutely”

(Although, never call one of your friends with the opening line of “Hey friend!” because it’s desperate and creepy and that IS a way to alienate yourself, sorry).

Are you having a bad day with your unruly toddler? IT’S NOT JUST YOU.

Are you feeling like a parental failure because you’ve just given in to their demand? IT’S NOT JUST YOU.

Are you running late for something and everything and everyone is in your way? IT’S NOT JUST YOU.

Are you in the shower crying because your tummy’s starting wobbling that little bit more and you can’t hit that high Adele note you’ve been trying to sing into the shower head whilst pretending you’re in a heartbroken music video? Okay… maybe that one is just me…

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You get my jist though…

It may be hard to believe but if you just give yourself a moment to breathe and look around, then you’ll realise IT’S NOT JUST YOU. I know that’s easier said than done. I’m struggling very much these days to feel like it’s not just me either. No matter how many people are surrounding you it can be extremely lonely in that mind of yours. Even if those people are loving friends and family… at the end of it all it’s still just YOU that you have to deal with ALL the time. We can catch a break from family, friends, children, life… every once in a while… but we can never catch a break from ourselves. And when you’re engulfed in self-doubt and self-pity it can be extremely hard to see past that. But IT’S NOT JUST YOU and you are NEVER alone.

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