Today I went to Target...ALONE. It was beautiful. I was able to walk up and down every aisle, instead of zipping through the store at marathon speed with the kids. It was magical. Moms, you know what I’m talking about. A Target trip alone is like a dang vacation.
I was at the checkout, with way more items than what I needed (story of my life), when I witnessed mom shaming. There was a mom, I’ll call her Jane, in the next lane over. She was about my age with two kids about the same age as mine. Her older child was LOSING it. I’m talking full blown meltdown. Crying, screaming, jumping in the cart. I don’t know why he was having a meltdown and it doesn’t matter. What happened to the mom IS what matters.
We’ve all been there. Trying to keep our cool while our kids are screaming in public. It’s a horrible feeling. It’s even worse when people who don’t know the situation are judging. Jane was doing her best to finish checking out and calm her child down. Nothing was working. I could see how frustrated Jane was and how badly she just wanted to get out of there. The cashier was trying to help and offer the kids stickers to make them happy, which only made the child scream more.
The woman behind Jane began commenting about poorly behaved children in stores, while another mom said Jane needed to learn how to control her children in public. A third woman stood there silent with her hand over her mouth while shaking her head at Jane. Behind me, a woman said that Jane shouldn’t bring her children out if they are that out of control. The cashier scanning my items said to me she would never allow her children to act that way if she ever had kids. Let me just stop right here and take a few minutes to laugh at ALL the things I said I would never do when I had kids…and then had them and did all those things.
I finished paying and Jane was still trying to calm her son down as they were walking out. She was near tears. I stopped and said, “it’s okay, I’ve been there, and regardless of what the onlookers say, you’re doing a great job”. Then I walked away. It’s in some of the worst parenting moments that you need to hear “you’re doing a great job” the most. Those words have helped me get through tough parenting moments. It gives the little push you need to keep your strength.
I’ve been where she is, with two kids screaming and losing it in public, having to drag them out of the store. I’ve felt the nasty stares and heard the comments. Jane didn’t feed into the tantrum and give her child what he wanted. She finished what she was doing and left.
The next time you see a parent struggling with a child acting out in public, just remember that no parent wants to be in that situation. Throw a sympathetic smile their way. A smile goes a long way in a world filled with judgment. It’s not easy being a parent with people always judging and looking. She was doing her best. We’re ALL just trying to do our best.