A wonderful mama recently wrote about contradictions in parenting. As I read it, I was nodding my head and silently screaming YES! EXACTLY!
If you are like me (and countless other women in this world), you hoped and prayed for the day you would become a mama. Whether it happened the old-fashioned way, with a little (or A LOT) of help from modern science and great doctors, or via adoption, it happened. And now, we are in the thick of it. Dealing with overwhelming emotion from all sides.
We dreamed of those insta-worthy moments of cuddles, belly laughs and joyful sweetness.
What we didn’t dream about were the tantrums, public outbursts and seemingly unending pressure from society to be perfect. It can sometimes be difficult to remember to soak it all in, to slow down and enjoy the simplicity and magic of those baby and toddler years. Those firsts and lasts and to just let your family be.
A couple of months ago, I was making a run to the neighborhood market. Our three-year-old decided he wanted to come along for the ride. I thought to myself, this should be easy. It’s just groceries and he’s in such a good mood. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. He was happy go lucky as we got the baby out of the car and settled into her ring sling, as I put him in the basket and wheeled him into the produce section. We chose strawberries, blueberries and some veggies for the week. And then I turned the corner. And that sneaky grocer had placed cheap toys on the end caps of almost EVERY AISLE. He asked for a toy. I told him no. Then he started crying and screaming – and did not stop until I put him in the car to leave. In between sobs, he repeatedly asked for a toy. And I just kept telling him no.
Then I thought to myself, I’m just going to have to come back later and do this all over again. So, I finished my shopping. Everyone in the store could hear him. I got a few nasty looks from other shoppers – all older ladies who surely thought I should control my child better. But I also got some supportive looks and comments – one lady telling me as she passed “hang in there, mama and don’t give in” and “Stay strong!” This gave me the strength to finish my shopping – getting everything on the list and resolutely telling my son no each time he asked for a toy.
I just kept going.
I tried desperately to redirect his attention. It didn’t work. My face was red, I was beyond embarrassed. But I kept going. I finished my shopping, loaded the car and put the kids in their car seat. And by the time we got home, he was asleep. He was tired. And the exhaustion of a three-year-old around lunch time is no joke. My husband carried him inside and put him in his bed. He slept for two hours. The kid who doesn’t really nap on weekends because he is too busy playing. But he apparently needed a break. We all took a nap that afternoon. And when he woke up, he was in a great mood, ready to run around outside and blow bubbles.
The swift swing of the toddler mood pendulum is enough to give parents and grandparents alike whip lash. But seeing the wonder on his face as he runs around the yard waving the bubble wand then chasing the bubbles … well, it’s more than worth it.