To the mom in the grocery store produce section with the toddlers in nuclear meltdown mode:
I saw the look you gave me.
The anxiousness. The embarrassment. The fear that I was annoyed or judging you, your children, or the impressive volume and endurance of their shrieking.
To you, I say…not a chance.
Oh, mom, I know it’s hard.
Children are such a blessing. A miraculous gift — sweet, adorable, warm and cuddly beings that can push the confines of your chest with the love that swells in your heart. They can also be the most self-centered, irrational, unreasonable, manipulative, mind-blowingly infuriating demon-creatures on earth. And the odds of their inner-Mr. Hyde rearing an ugly head in public are disproportionately high.
That meltdown your kids were having in the produce section? I could tell they were tired at the end of a long day. I could also tell that they were healthy, clean, and loved. Their clothes even matched. Hell, YOUR clothes matched. You are rocking this parenting thing.
I know you felt like time was standing still. A fifteen-minute trip to the grocery store can feel like hours with a child (or TWO) squalling in your face. And I know what you were thinking. But stop it. This fifteen minutes doesn’t define you as a parent. A meltdown in the store does not mean that you are failing as a mom or that your children are brats or destined to be horrible adults.
I can say this with confidence because I’ve raised my children – and I watched you. You didn’t give in to them, even though exasperation was clearly setting in. You pushed on. Eventually, they’ll learn that you’ve set firm boundaries for them. You felt like a loser in that moment, but I saw someone winning a bigger battle.
But back to your feelings about time. I know that you think you actually have it. You think that this is the state of your life from here on out. But make no mistake: this will end. Take it from a mom who has finished raising her family: your children will grow and their problems will become much bigger than being denied a cookie from the bakery. They will even move out on their own. Your current chapter is a long one, but it will come to a close. When it does, you will miss it. Terribly.
So stop wasting time worrying about what other shoppers are thinking of you. Get your babies home, get them some food and rest. Tomorrow will be better. Enjoy this time.
I promise, you are doing great.