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I was at the store the other day, lazily walking down the aisle, trying to figure out what to get my kid that has everything for her birthday. Along the way, my She does not need that, she will live without that, you are spoiling her, but OMG she would look freaking ADORABLE in that! internal arguments were interrupted by the very loud cries of a child a few aisles away.
I, long ago, gave up the hypocritical annoyance of having my Saturday morning interrupted by a child’s tantrum. Especially since all three of mine have treated other patrons to it on more than one occasion. I actually smiled and walked on, really, really glad that mine were past that stage. For the most part.
But the loud, protesting, tantrum continued, impossible to ignore even in my grateful reverie.
I, though, kept on my path, dictating to myself that a 7 year old was clearly over the Dora section, and moved on to find a You are the coolest mom in the whole wide world! gift.
But the screaming tantrum was persistent and I could tell that it was getting closer to scene. I passed the tantrum scene on my way to the What to get your 7 year old when you are competing with an ex-husband who will be competing with you, no matter unhealthy it is aisle, and passed the GRANDmotherhood who was in the store with 4 boys clearly under the age of 8, trying to calm her 2 year old Grandson into compliance even though he really, really wanted that Lego set.
I felt for her. I really did. I have been there. Fighting the inconsolable child that is screaming your inadequacies to deal with them all through the store.
But I was the only understanding one, I think. Because as I passed, I heard from a woman with a child in the seat in her cart to her friend, She need to take that child home. I am trying to shop in Peace here!
THIS is how we support each other?
We listen to another woman trying to get a child under control and we chastise them for it? As if none of us have ever been in a situation where embarrassment paired with a complete and utter loss of what to do with an inconsolable child leaves us sitting in a store aisle praying no one can hear them?
I turned back around to the aisle where the screaming child and Grandmother sat, three other boys noisily done with it all, begging to go look at the other toys on the next aisle.
I saw she was on the little boy’s level trying to get him to calm down and walked on, not wanting to interrupt what she was trying to do. I heard her telling him that he was to shape up or she was going to take him to the car, nothing in hand, and take him back home where he could throw all the tantrums he wanted.
I don’t know what she said next, but the aisles were suddenly quiet, his tantrum calm, releasing us all from the knowledge that it could have been our kid.
I heard the same woman with the child in the card say FINALLY, Thank God! loud enough for anyone to hear and I was livid again.
When did raising a child and teaching a child to behave become an outdoor activity that would not bother another person? Last time I checked, it took patience, calmness, rationality and a great deal of self restraint to raise a child. No matter where you were!
I shook my head and headed out of the toy section, deciding my 7 year old needed nothing here, and passed the Grandmother, 4 little boys in tow, now looking for books that they could read to each other.
I stopped and said, Good Job! It is tough to get an upset child calm and you did awesome!
She blushed a little and said, These are my grand babies and I am trying to give their moms a break. I just wanted everyone to stop staring!
As I walked away I thought it was ridiculous that ANY women – mother, grandmother, aunt, sister, caregiver – should be embarrassed that she had to parent in a public place. I think we have to parent everywhere! Even when others might be disturbed.
Now, listen, I have been at this for 7 very short years. And I have learned that when one of my kids decides to throw a tantrum, vacating the premises immediately is the best option. And I have done it enough that my kids know the punishment. But this Grandmother was trying to do a good thing for her daughter. And the women with the cart needed to HUSH IT and fast!
Supporting each other is more than just flowery, embellished stories at a playdate. It is more than a glass of wine when we can get away with our best friends. It is a universal support of moms, caregivers and more no matter where and no matter when!
Let’s stand together and support women when they are having a challenge raising kids! Whether we know them or not!
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