Being a mom of little ones is not easy, especially in public. I was in Walgreen yesterday to pick up a few things and I ran into a horrific sight; a toddler having a full blown melt down in epic proportions. It was YouTube worthy with the little boy in a dinosaur shirt and swim trunks laying in the middle of the floor, arms flailing, legs kicking, screaming at the top of his lungs. The sound he was making was one out of every mother’s nightmares and was a combination of a wail, a shriek, and a firetruck siren. It was enough to make customers from the far corners of the store to stop and wonder what the heck was going on. In the middle of it all, was the mom.
She looked embarrassed, frustrated, defeated and above all, tired. They obviously had been at the pool or the beach all day. She was still in her flip flops, with sunglasses on her head and a little bit of sunburn on her face. She was holding a gallon of milk, a bottle of Tylenol and her very young baby. Like an accident on the side of the road, people were gaping to get a glimpse of the wreckage of her day.
I flashback to one of my most defeating moments as a young mom. It took place at Target, 12 years ago, when I was having a similar day as this mom was having today. It was me, trying to buy diapers and formula when my children should have been home in bed. But the day ran out of hours and I found myself at the store buying items I could not live without. My youngest, was strapped to my chest and crying, my middle child was desperately trying to climb out of the cart, moments from being successful and my oldest was pleading for a chocolate bar, conveniently located at a height that she could reach. I was at the end of my rope when an older woman behind me in line, decided that this was a great time for a conversation. She proceeds to tell me, that this is the best time of my life, that these days would come and go, that these are the memories that I would treasure some day. At that moment in my life, right there in that target check out line, I wanted to smack that little old lady in the head. Luckily for her, I was a little busy. So, I smiled and got the heck out of target as fast as I could with my 3 little rug rats in tow. Now, 12 year later, I realize, she was right.
Back to the temper tantrum in progress. The little guy had gotten to his feet, still howling but now was wrapped around one of her legs. She could feel the public’s eyes on her, scrutinizing her and judging her motherly abilities. She began to plead with him to stop. She offered him some cookies at home but that did not work. She offered to buy him a candy bar, no change. She finally gave in and said she would buy him the truck which was the reason for the whole temper tantrum in the first place. These were the magic words he was waiting for and just as abruptly as the temper tantrum started, it stopped. She reached up and gave him the truck off the third shelf just out of his reach. He was instantly happy and smiling but still sniffling from the intensity of the performance. I could see the defeat in her eyes. She was an adult challenged by a 3 year old and he obviously won. He knew it, she knew, everyone watching knew it. She grabbed his hand, paid for their items and left the store as quickly as she could.
Witnessing this small slice of life of this mom’s day, reminded me just how hard it is to be a mom. My kids are teenagers now and sometimes I forget. So, I just want to tell that young mom a few things.
- You are not a bad mom for giving in. Some situations necessitate giving in. Don’t beat yourself up for it. You are human.
- Don’t pay attention to the eyes of strangers. They don’t know you. You know you. Ignore them and you will be a happier person and a better mom.
- Do what you feel is best for your kids. Everyone has opinions. Ignore the noise and listen to yourself.
- Laugh at yourself and your children. In 10 years, it will be funny, trust me. Try to see the light side of situations. Usually, it is not the end of the world.
- Take all the help you can get. People would offer to help me and I would tell them, “No, I got it.” Truth is, I didn’t. If I could go back, I would take the help from every single person who offered and I would of asked for it more often.
- You will have good days and bad days. In the words of my father, “This too, shall pass.”
- It gets better. They won’t be little forever.
And in the end, that little old lady in Target was right. Cherish every single moment of these years. They will go too fast. The days are sometimes way too long, but the years go by way too quickly. You will be surprised what your kids remember and what you will laugh about together. It is all part of the remarkable, miraculous, and surprising journey of motherhood.