Before having kids I used to laugh at all the parents I'd see shopping with their toddlers. The ones who begged and pleaded for their kids to behave. The ones who gave in to their toddler's toy requests and the ones who screamed at their toddlers for acting like a toddler at the store. All things I aimed not to do when I had a toddler of my own. And now with 2 toddler's I avoid stores at all costs. Stores and toddlers do not mix. At all!
A few weeks ago Gianna had a birthday party at one of those cute little spa places for young girls. It was down in Fort Walton Beach which is a bout a 20-30 min drive for us. Anytime I head to FWB or Destin I try to make a day out of it and run errands. There is no target by us so I never pass up an opportunity to go to target. After the party I had planend to take the kids to target for some things I needed at home
The party started at 11. Neither kid slept on the car ride there and Ethan didn't sleep at all like I had planned during the party. The party ended at 1:30ish and I debated about even going to target since neither kid had napped. I decided to go since I made the drive and didn't want to waste the trip. Both kids fell asleep in the 5 min ride from the mall to target. I put Ethan in my ergo thinking he would continue sleeping. Not a chance and I woke Gianna up to put her in the shopping cart. This girl hates carts and wanted to walk. No problem. The minute we walked into target she let out a big yell for Toys and started running to the toy section( I do not buy my child toys every time we go to the store but we had had 6 bday parties to shop for recently so we had been spending a lot of time down the toy aisle)Anyway I convinced her to wait for me and I picked up what I need to get hoping to avoid the toy area unscathed.
That wasn't to be. As we rounded the corner of the baby area there in the middle of the aisle was a Minnie's bowtique shopping cart. Gianna had to have it. Never mind the fact that she has a shopping cart at home and hardly uses it. Mine she yelled running over to grab it. And she wouldn't let go. I figured it wouldn't harm her to push it around the store as I finished shopping. We got over to the Halloween section where she was distracted by a purple pumpkin. I took the opportunity to kick the cart out of sight while she was out of view. Didn't work. She noticed my unsmooth moves and went screaming after the cart. People started to look. I tried grabbing the cart out of her hand but that only resulted in her launching herself on the ground and kicking and screaming. At this time everyone was looking. I recognized those looks of judgement. The assumptions that my child is spoiled, that I can't handle her, that I must give in to her every tantrum. Those looks. I got red in the face and continued on.
We reached the checkout, Gianna contentedly pushing her shopping cart after me pretending to be doing some shopping of her own. I tried explaining to Gianna that it was time to leave the stroller behind. She cried, she begged, I held firm trying to grasp the thing out of her hand while also keeping Ethan contained in the cart since he had taken the distraction as a chance to become monkey man and try and climb out of it. Gianna was starting to get red in the face, people were staring and I knew we were a second away from another meltdown.
By this time a line was starting to form behind me, a woman with her mom and two kids were directly behind me. I could see the woman looking at me. She was about my age, perfectly dressed, makeup actually applied and hair curled. She was cute and trendy and her two little ones sat politely in their carts. I gave in to Gianna's tantrum and said we could buy the stroller. The woman opened her mouth to say something and I waited to hear the judgement and she said, Isn't shopping with two kids horrible? Just last week my daughter did the same thing and I got her the toy.
I wanted to hug that woman and ask for her phone number so I could stalk her and we could become Mommy besties. Instead I restrained myself, laughed and agreed that shopping with two toddlers was not the best experience in the world. Turns out our kids were the same age as well. Small world
I left the store feeling happy. I didn't feel guilty about myself for the fact that my daughter had a tantrum in a store, I didn't feel like a failure as a mom since I clearly gave in to that tantrum and I didn't regret buying that shopping cart. I left feeling happy because for once I felt like another mother understood me and didn't judge me. In that moment, where she could have commented on my horrible parenting skills she chose to relate and emphasize with me instead of judge or scorn me. I will never forget that
At my Mops meeting the other day we talked about this very thing. Why as moms do we judge other mother's for their decisions. Why do we assume that our way is the right way and why do we not give other mother's any slack for the job they are doing. Being a parent is hard. There isn't a parenting manual written out there to encompass every situation we as parents encounter. Every day as a parent is a learning experience, both for yourself and your child. Why can't we be honest with each other,admit it's hard, admit we don't have all the answers and that we understand that about each other as well. Instead of cutting down or judging another mother why don't we relate and empathize with them
Now when I'm out and about and I see a child tantruming at the store I give the mother a knowing look and smile. Not in judgement but because I know. And I vow daily to not harshly judge another mother's parenting decisions or view my own as superior.
And I also learned that I will not be taking my kids to target every again after a birthday party on a day they didn't get their naps in. Lesson learned
Oh and on another note, she loves that shopping cart still and uses it all the time. Win for me!