Saturday, December 26, 2015

Dear Mom in the Target Parking Lot

I hate that I have to write this, but I do.  Dear mom letters are really not my thing.  I don’t even want to read them anymore.  They generally are meant to be sweet gestures, but end up sounding like a “perfect” somewhat know it all of a mom needing to be “liked”.  I get it.  We have created this culture.  We have lost our helpful nature and have become, dare I go as far to say, narcissists needing affirmation from everywhere and everyone around us.   So goes mommyhood.  Mommywars fueled by the ever need to one up the Johnsons and the Smiths and be better. 

So this is a personal story.  One that is super embarrassing for so many reasons and left me really in a bad place for about 24 hours.  Even now a few days later I relive every detail and the shoulda woulda couldas come to mind but there is a moral to this story so I will share.  Here goes….

Dear Mom in the Target parking lot,

You followed me and waved me down, screaming, “He’s just a kid.  He’s just a kid.  I’m calling the police.  I have your license plate”.  You thought you knew the story just by some tiny 5 second blurb that you saw in the parking lot and assumed that you knew how to parent better than I and you were going to have your say.  I get it.  No one wants to see people struggling with children.  We are conditioned to believe based on social media that all kids behave at all times and no one poops and if they do misbehave {or poop haha}  there is a set way to discipline.  Only there is not.  The set of circumstances and the variation in child temperament and even the amount of learning disabilities these days always is just too vast.  No one form of discipline works at all times for all kids.  You are na├»ve if you think that way. 

I’m not exactly sure what you saw, but here is what happened (most of which you I am sure did not see).  Remember you saw maybe 5 seconds.  You judged me on 5 seconds.  Let that sink in.  

Monday morning my 4 year old and I took my husband to the hospital for surgery. We stayed long enough for the dr to arrive and get him prepped.  We would have hung around and waited for him, but as life goes, he had errands for us to run.  We have been without a fridge for roughly 25 days.  The night before we had finally gone to get my brother in laws deep freeze so we would have something to use for the weeks my husband would be off recovering which meant we needed to pick up a few things.  

I have totally gotten in a just give up on life and shop for all of life’s needs at Target.  I used to grocery shop at grocery stores and then I had kids.  Now I need a one stop shop for life and Target has become it.  So, while Mark is in surgery I take G to Target.  He wants one of those atrocious giant shopping carts with the extra seat thing in front of the cart.  You need a semi license to drive one of those things.  I needed to be fast and there wasn’t one anywhere to be found so we settled on a regular cart because honestly he would have just walked anyway while I was stuck lugging some giant mommy hating cart through the store. 

We are on a mission for soup because that is what Mark and I agreed would probably be easiest on his stomach while he was recuperating.  We find that and then G decides we need to fill the cart with mac and cheese.  Seriously, he was throwing them in there.  Settle on 6 or so packages and then find the pasta sauce and some pasta.  G then decides to rearrange the whole cart as I am looking at something.  Bam, the pasta sauce goes on the floor.  We find a very nice lady and let her know.  Tell G to apologize, which he does ever so quietly.   Very nice lady says no big deal she drops things all the time LOL.  Well, there you go.  

So we continue shopping and then out of the corner of his little eye he spies that beloved behemoth of a cart and takes off running.  I finally get to him and tell him that I am not switching carts.  He throws a major fit, so I leave our cart, pick him up and cart him to the car.  We drive home with no soup for my husband and a very ticked off 4 year old who can go on and on about life’s injustices for far too long.

Finally it is time to pick up my husband, but we still need rations.  We decide to stop by Target again and my husband would stay in the car.  For some ridiculous reason I said G could go into the store with me.  I’m nice like that.  Besides I didn’t want my super tired just had surgery husband to have to listen to 20 minutes of screaming.  Again, I’m nice like that. 

I just need some soup,  a few mac and cheese, and this grabber thing my husband saw the other day but failed to actually buy.  As the previous trip went, little G began asking for everything and going so far as to put things in my cart as I turned around.  He was running off and just generally not listening.  We finally get what we need plus a little more and then he throws a fit at the checkout stand.  This is one of those super determined never gives up type of kid.  He throws himself on the floor, screams, throws things, hitting me, biting me, pretty much just causes a whole scene. 

I have to get me, a screaming G and our cart of Target nonsense back to the car so I pick up screaming G and put him at the top of the cart where I am holding him.  I guess I should also mention that he will run off and plop himself anywhere when he is mad so dodging a busy Christmas week Target parking lot requires extra safety precautions.  So at this point I am mumbling how I suck as a mom and he never listens to me and just generally questioning why everything in life has to be so difficult all while restraining an out of control 4 year old in a cart. 

Enter the know it all mom who I guess thinks I am hurting him in some way when really I’m trying to protect an out of control 4 year old from getting hurt in a Target parking lot.  So when you started screaming and then threatening me when I’m already at a stressed out state, I lost it and yelled at you to butt out and mind your own business which apparently infuriated you because you either called the police or pretended to.   I continued putting my screaming crying kid in the car as well as the groceries and still managed to put my cart in the cart corral while you stood there judging me.  Judging me on 5 seconds.  Not sure who you called, but it doesn’t matter.   I didn’t stick around because you are neither my circus nor my monkey. 

Here’s what you could have done, the moral of the story shall we.  Should you ever find yourself in a situation where you don’t like what you see, before following some unsuspecting mom through the Target parking lot screaming at her, try remembering that you don’t have all the facts and that little blips don’t tell the whole story.  Then offer to be helpful.  Perhaps this is just a bad day or a bad moment and instead of ruining someone’s life by adding stress and God forbid the cops or CPS, help them.  Had you offered to put my groceries in the car or hold my child’s hand the rest of the way, the situation would never have escalated.  By making threats you alerted the momma bear in me to protect my young at all costs.  You had a chance to diffuse the situation and you didn’t.  You passed judgement on me and asserted your perfect mom ideals on me. 

I get it though.  We live in the social media age.  In the words of my friend, we have become the cult of the child.  We live to please our children and hold them up to God size powers.  We believe that all of life’s doings must be to serve our children in some way.  Whatever happened to God first, husband second and then children?  We have become a nation that idolizes our children.  I’m not perfect in any shape or form and most days I’m just winging it and hoping for the best, but the mommy judging needs to stop.  Bring back the mommies that help. 

Photo Credit:  KT Photography 
I might not have been handling my child the way you would have.  Honestly I wish I would have handled his tantrum a million other ways, but let’s be honest, had I say, sat down at the exit to Target where my child wanted to have a tantrum and waited it out I would have been judged by someone else.  There is no winning, but I’m asking you not to take an extreme situation and make it worse.  Should you want to butt in, do it with grace and with the intention of helping. 

This probably won’t change your view.  You’ll probably still think you are right and well, that’s fine.  My purpose in writing isn’t actually for you.   My purpose is sharing a more loving way to act and react in these situations.  We are all parents doing our best and sometimes we need a little help.  So be a helper not a hero.  Helpers act in love.  Heroes in the case of mommywars act in self promotion.  Ask yourself, can I make this situation better or will stepping in cause more damage or at the worst, am I doing this for the wrong reasons?

How do you handle parenting situations when you are out and about, either with your own children or when you witness other parents having a rought time?

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