I saw a mother at the bookstore the other day, and we both nodded at eachother in a silent understanding.
I didn’t have my son with me, but she had her toddler in a stroller. This little girl was probably about 2 years old (ah, the pediatrician in me doing a developmental assessment), and her precious daughter who I’m sure in other circumstances is very charming and cute, was actually in full out tilt. She was all the way dialed up to a 10 in the midst of her tantrum.
Her cheeks were red from the exertion of yelling, fists balled up pounding on her own thighs, legs flying about at the base of her arm rest, and curly hair flinging wildly. I couldn’t tell you what color this little girl’s eyes were because they were closed—tightly.
Tears slid quickly down her face and her mouth was wide open in a yelling “NO!”
Her mother looked exhausted, embarrassed, and quite frankly frazzled. She offered the girl her sippy cup, which somehow the little one managed to slap out of her hand. People all around me looked at this poor thing (I am referring to the Mom) with pity, but about 5 minutes into the ordeal, folks started to get annoyed.
Some actually started clearing their throats as if cueing this poor Mom to “handle” the situation.
I could see accusing glances being directed at this mom who now was deliberately avoiding eye contact with anyone.
I had to give it to the little girl, she had stamina! She had endurance. This full out meltdown continued at the same loud decibel for the greater part of 10 minutes; causing any intelligent discussion or thought process by individuals sitting in the bookstore café to be derailed.
She was winning…big time.
Her Mom looked deflated and sad. I thought she might actually start crying too, when I heard her voice waver as she begged this little tyrant to, “Please stop”, offering a multitude of goodies in exchange for cooperation.
Does this sound familiar to anyone else out there?
We made eye contact as she finally collected her things to leave, resigned to her loss. I smiled and nodded, basically trying to let her know – it happens to all of us sometimes. I gave her a look, which I think she understood, that said, “You aren’t alone, I have been there too”.
In return, I received a sort of silent reciprocation that I translated to mean, “Thanks”.
Maybe the situation hasn’t been quite been that dramatic for some of you, or maybe it’s been even worse. If you’re lucky, this may never happen, but my guess is that one day it will.
One day, your perfect little angel will do this. You will feel like a failure. A mixed bag of emotions ranging from frustration to humiliation and anger will surge through your veins. You will be helpless.
Hopefully, you will be liberated from the toughest critic you know – yourself – or through the collaborative understanding of other mothers in your midst.
Someone did that for me once in Target when my son, in a similar though less dramatic fashion had a toddler meltdown.
This quiet communication with another woman who had her own toddler in tow did wonders for my spirit. So if you’re a mom out there, don’t forget to give the Motherhood Salute to those in distress.
It may be just the lifeline they need!
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