We’ve all been there.
In the store, with a little one, melting on the floor, the floor you’ve hoped has been washed, melting right there with that loud toddler or preschool cry while the rest of the world pushes their carts with food nearby. It’s those parenting challenge times – where you’re forced to parent in front of the audience of your local store.
Yesterday, it was me.
We were in the store – just for a quick run for some cereal and bread and maybe strawberries if they were still on sale. Before we went in I talked to my six and four year old boys and told them what we were getting and that we were getting nothing more. Elijah, the four year old, was to hold my hand the entire time because he has this tendency to run off and check things out.
I knew I was in for a challenge when the sliding doors opened – when he jumped around and attempted to run and very loudly exclaimed – look at all the amazing stuff!
Patience. That’s what I kept telling myself. Patience. Love. But everything was so cool for him. The berries, the books, the fireworks display at the entrance, the cereal option, the cakes, the ice cream, balloons hanging, toys in the cereal aisle and more. He was doing awesome, really. Until that moment when he tried to dash from me to look at the gluten full cookies on display and proceeded to duck in front of me causing me to trip and him to stumble as he attempted to leave my hand.
He didn’t get to go.
And thus was irritated that he wasn’t going over to those cookies.
I tried to pick him up and then, right there in front of the 3 for $10 frozen pizza display, when he decided to sit down and let out a loud I want to look at the cookies wail. Yes, I’m working on being a yes mom, but in this instance, the answer was simply no. We can’t do gluten in the house and I set the expectations of the shopping trip in the car. I needed to stick with them. I knew people were walking around looking, but honestly, I’ve learned to not care.
Not care in the I’m just going to let my child cry way, but not care in letting the crying stress me out so it distracts me from my parenting.
And that’s what I’m writing to you about. Your child melting inside the store isn’t a reflection of your parenting skills. Now, I might be writing you something different if you react like that parent I wrote about weeks ago. You know, the one you yelled very loudly at her child in Target about being such a jerk. That’s different. That’s unacceptable – I don’t care what they’re doing you just don’t resort to calling your four year old names.
You see I didn’t yell. Instead I crouched down, looked little Elijah in the eyes, and reminded him of our conversation in the car. About how we were only getting bread, cereal, strawberries and now one package of snaps for the sidewalk for $1. He still didn’t like it. He was still just a wee bit loud.
Okay who am I kidding?
He was loud. The kid we all think thank goodness that’s not mine. Today.
This wasn’t about me looking like I had the perfect child, or me talking loudly and screaming at him to stop, this was about me stepping out of my comfort zone and recognizing that he needed me down at that level. And remembering, that if you’re a parent, and there were probably lots of parents wandering in the store, chances are they’ve gone through the same thing.
Different day, same scenario.
So I scooped him up, right by those pepperoni pizzas, and carried him while my Caleb picked up our basket of food. We went to pay, he wanted gum – another cry, but we still left with what we came in for and those $1 snaps.
I brought him to the car, buckled him up, and looked in his little face, that face that I love no matter what, and told him I loved him and that I was glad that he got to go with me to the store on that Wednesday morning. I told him about all the times in the store where he did great – in the cereal aisle when I had to say no to all those cereals, and by the strawberries, and the fireworks display when the question was asked about that $39 box of noise, and then we talked just for a bit about the cookie and why I had to say no.
He matters more than me looking good.
He deserves more.
Mothers, they will melt down in the store.
They simply will.
Shut out the world around you, focus on your child, and do your best.
We’re not here to judge. Not at all.
Mothering is hard.
It takes work, a thick skin, patience, and strong arms to carry little ones crying through a store. Sure there are the beautiful days, creative days, and wonderful days – but there are also an equal amount of the other. In fact, right now, as I type these words, my little Elijah, my precocious exploring child is sitting at the table, tapping a paintbrush full of black messy paint and splattering it on the table, and being quite content with who he is right now.
I’m an artist, momma.
Yep. An artist. In training. Who wanted a gluten full cookie.
Who I love no matter what.
That’s what I told myself while I knelt on the floor next to him in the store that morning.