It was another one of those shopping trips.
The type where everything seems to be going okay. You are completely in control and then something happens…
This was when the 8 month old pooped her diaper. She hates, hates being poopy.
But we were EIGHT feet from the register.
Always optimistic, I headed through the line in hopes of checking out quickly and then going to the bathroom with my cart full of paid for groceries and 3 squirming children.
Like it was going to be quick.
This was when the two year old discovered the candy!
“Put it back with its friends” I told her. She did. Only to find another bar to hold up a moment later. “Put it back with its friends too.” I echoed.
The three year old was sitting amidst the groceries and to my relief began loading the conveyer belt full of them.
I was one handed now – giving in to the eight month old who was swinging over my arm because she didn’t want to sit in her poop.
We were doing okay until the three year old found a head of cabbage that did not have a produce bag.
“Oh no!!!” He burst out “It doesn’t have a bag!! Mama! We need to get a bag!”
“No, it’s okay. It will be okay without a bag today.”
This was too much for him. I lost my helper at that moment.
And my voice seemed to sound like a constant stream.
“Put it back with its friends.It really will be okay without a bag. The lady will put it in a bag. Oh! I have some coupons!! Here they are! Put that candy back with its friends too! Oh. I meant to buy those stamps with a different credit card. Can you take them off now? Oh, you can’t? Okay. That’s okay I guess. They all go back with their friends!! Now, see? Now she put it in a bag! It’s all better! Okay guys! Hold on to the cart!! Now we are all going to walk forward! You need to hold on too! Hurry!”
We finally were done. (Only needing to round up the two year old twice who today discovered the wonderful game of duck around the corner and see if Mama notices). She did come every time she was called, but it was hard to look calm and collected with an increasingly frustrated poopy baby hanging in mid-air and an OCD preschooler who suddenly had passionate opinions about the buying process of our vegetables.
After the bathroom, I got in the car exhausted. Control was gone.
All three were crying because it was 12:14, and they were hungry. The Ramen noodles I’d promised the 3 year old had somehow been missed in the rush, and he, who had been so good and helpful for the shopping trip, was deeply disappointed and feeling quite betrayed.
Before I could cry too, there was a knock on the window.
It was a woman around my age.
“I just wanted to say I’m so impressed with you.” she said.
She waved into the car at the three red-faced kids, and they all simultaneously stopped crying to watch her.
Getting out for a moment to talk to her, I was deeply encouraged by her kind words.
I got back in the quiet car feeling greatly lightened.
And driving home, I reflected on the trip. We’ve had many frustrating shopping trips, and it was easy to be discouraged that we had had yet another. However, I was not.
I realized that:
The 3 year old had done a great job obeying and helping today.
The 2 year old needed to work on not touching and not running, but she also obeyed when told to put items back and to come.
And someone gave me a compliment.
So if you are a tired Mom: There is hope! It feels like the struggle with their little selfish hearts is endless, but it’s not. They have victories, and when they gain victory in one area the old struggles are replaced with different struggles. That is part of growth Then you help them through those too. Don’t let this be discouraging. Focus on the victories. Praise them for them, and realize that they will gain victory over the new areas of struggle.
And if you are not a tired Mom at this time in your life and you see a Mom who is trying really hard somewhere, tell her she is doing a good job. Momhood is pretty thankless. Chances are you will make her month.
That kind stranger made mine.