Dear Mom of the Tantruming Toddler in Target,
I know you’re embarrassed. I can see your eyes darting left and right as you try to scoop your screaming, hysterical child off of the grocery store floor. Your face is red. I’m pretty sure those are tears in your eyes. You’re wearing black stretch pants and a sweatshirt, and like me, your hair is a bit of a mess and probably hasn’t been washed in a few days. I know you saw me watching you but I want you to know something: I’m not judging you.
I’m not thinking you should be doing something else or being more or this or less of that. I’m not wondering why you brought a kid into the store because I don’t expect you to hire a babysitter to run an errand. I’m not wondering why you can’t “control your child” because I know toddlers aren’t robots, they’re people. Wild people, who lose their crap (sometimes literally) in public.
I’m not wondering why you aren’t a Jedi master who can’t magically end your child’s tantrum with a glare or mind control because you’re not and neither am I. I’m not wondering why your toddler doesn’t respect/fear you enough to do whatever you say the minute you say it because you’re a mom, not Putin.
You want to know what I AM thinking about?
I’m wondering how much sleep you got last night. Hell, I’m wondering how much sleep you’ve gotten in the last two years. I’m wondering if like me, your toddler still gets up at night even though you’ve tried everything. I’m wondering if your toddler woke up at the crack of dawn asking for Netflix and eggs that he probably won’t even show interest in until you start eating them to avoid wasting more food than you already do.
I’m wondering when was the last time you ate a full meal without having little hands grabbing at your plate or a little body sitting in your lap. It’s probably been awhile. I’m wondering if like me, the only thing you’ve had to eat today are the leftover scraps of breakfast your child rejected and half a cup of coffee. Did you put the other half in the microwave and forget about it? I did, too.
I’m wondering if you’re as excited as I am to simply get out of the house even if it means your kid will ask for every toy they see, kick their shoes off in the car, need to pee 200 times, or end up wailing in the shopping cart.
As you pick up your screaming child, I wonder if it’s nap time and like me, you’re just trying to finish up your errands and get home. You’re probably hoping he doesn’t fall asleep on the way home but know he will. So instead of an hour of silence, you’ll have an afternoon of well, drama, more tears, and room temperature coffee while waiting for an acceptable time to move on to a slightly stronger liquid.
I wonder if, like me, you’re surprised how hard motherhood is, but wouldn’t change anything for the world. I wonder if, like me, you love your child more than words can even start to express and would do it all over again in a second. Minus some of the tantrums.
I’m wondering if you’re OK. You’ve picked up your little one now and are rushing out of the store. You’re leaving behind a full cart of groceries. I’ve been there. I hope your day gets better.
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