Anna has always been a good shopper, but Aaron not-so-much. (He gets it from his dad. No, wait. He gets it from me.) Either way, going to Target is a no-nonsense adventure for us. First stop: the bakery for a cookie:
These cookies buy me approximately 19 minutes of shopping time. Thankfully, I know the P-ville Target like the back of my hand, so 19 minutes is do-able. In and out. No messing around.
But no matter how hard I plan, or how quickly I shop, there is something that happens in the check out line. I blame the conveyer belt-- it's just too tempting a toy to play with. Checking out at Target is usually a not-so-fun experience.
And today... well, today was super-not-so-fun.
Now, I'm no expert when it comes to parenting. But I do know a couple of things that work for me, and I know the kind of parent I want to be. I also do a lot of yoga. What I'm saying is that crying and whining don't work on this woman in her thirties. I don't want my kids to think that the louder they cry the more likely I am to give them their way. So today, when they both started breaking down in the checkout line, I offered them a quick consolation ("I understand you want to get down, but you have to wait just a few more minutes"), and then I continued on with the business at hand. (That is where the yoga breathing comes in.)
The point is.... I had it. I knew they were crying, I knew why, and I was okay with my way of dealing with it. My silence was not a precursor to me breaking down in sobs of my own or going postal on anyone in the building. My silence was chosen, and I was fine. My kids were going to be fine. EVERYONE WAS GOING TO BE FINE.
Here are three things that happened that made it not fine:
1. The check out lady stopped checking and started story telling.
"I remember one time, my girls really didn't want to go for a walk, and...." She lost me there. She was trying to make me feel better-- that she had kids too so she understood. But the only thing I wanted at that moment was for her to check me out faster, so we could get out faster.
2. The woman behind me made sure I knew she had it worse.
"Try doing that with three of 'em!" She said. Gee, thanks. I didn't know we were in a competition. You win- your life is harder than mine. Ugh.
3. The woman TWO AISLES OVER shouted at me.
"We've all been there!" Thank you, very much. I know that. I don't look at my crying children and think they are any different from any other children that have walked the planet. I know she was trying to help, but all she did was make more of a scene. Because SHE SHOUTED AT ME.
I was pretty frazzled when we got home, and it wasn't even because of the experience. I couldn't figure out if I was overreacting or not. I am usually very considerate of people's meanings... and most people mean well. These women certainly did. But they still shook me, and now I know why:
They made me question what I was doing. They made me second guess my judgement as a parent. They embarrassed me.
I had it... didn't I?
I have this.... don't I?
The answer, obviously, is yes. Of course I do. I KNOW THAT. What rocked me wasn't their well-meaning 'help'. It was the idea that maybe I should have been more unnerved than I was. That a mom like me needs constant reminders that she's not alone.
And those reminders are nice.... sometimes. But sometimes, it's okay to look at a woman in her thirties, see her breathing (in through the nose and out through the nose) and think.....
Would you look at that? She's got it.