To the Mom whose infant cried for no apparent reason (all his needs had been met!!) during your entire trip to the pharmacy,
whose toddler just threw a screaming tantrum in the aisle at Target (or in the middle of your living room),
whose preschooler just had a meltdown in the grocery store parking lot,
whose early elementary school kid (!!) just had an explosive, angry outburst at the post office.
I have a few things to say to you:
You are not a failure.
You are not a bad Mom.
And most importantly, you are not alone.
I have been the Mom in all 4 scenarios described above. Some quite recently, in fact. So even if it’s only our kids that are doing those things (which I know it’s not!), we’re still in this crazy parenting thing together…not by ourselves.
So go ahead. Finish that pharmacy trip like you can’t even hear the baby screaming. Pick that toddler (or preschooler or elementary kid) up. Either put him in the cart or carry him outside to collect his (and your) wits and get back in there to finish your errand. With your head held high.
(And remember, anyone giving you judgmental looks has likely either never had young kids or has forgotten what it was like. Just shake that off.)
Be consistent with your response. Try not to get all riled up. Take deep breaths and keep calm.
And do what you need to do. You can do your best to get that errand done. As fast as possible. Because you’re the parent, after all, and you’re there for a reason! Or you can just leave and come back later, especially if having a crying kid is not an option in that moment (at the library, for instance).
But don’t beat yourself up.
Administer an appropriate consequence to your child (if applicable) and move on.
Later, when the kids are napping or in bed, think about what happened. See if you can identify what triggered the behavior so you can recognize and hopefully prevent a future incident, if possible. Make sure you have clear and simple rules and consequences that are easy to follow and realistic to enforce. Now’s the time to make changes…not in the heat of the moment when your frustration causes you to spew out consequences you don’t want to (or simply can’t) enforce.
And most importantly:
Forgive your kids for being disobedient or disrespectful or embarrassing or whatever.
And forgive yourself, especially if you didn’t like how you responded or if you feel overwhelmed.
Then look forward to tomorrow’s fresh start.