Saturday afternoon, my shopping day at Wal-Mart, when I looked down to see one arm and two legs peeking out from under the clothing rack. I hear a whine turn into a wail, quickly escalating to a head splitting scream. Arms flailing, legs kicking, it dawns on me this child is in the middle of a one-person smack down. Seen this before, watched as mothers worked to punish, pacify and reduce the effect the event is having on the entire store.
I walked by those mothers with disbelief, I mean couldn’t they control their child after all he or she is less three feet tall! I was so sure this would never happen to me and if it did I would handle this so well. I would be the model mother having control of all things at all times.
But on this day as I peered through the hanging shirt sleeves that ended with dangling sales tags the little girl I am looking at, well she’s mine. My motherhood exercise of pacifying and cajoling begins but nothing I try works. Looking around to see how many shoppers are watching I realize I have drawn a crowd. Each person in the audience was observing the reality I was completely in over my head. The fact that I am caught surprised that my child would ever act this way should be my first clue that I hadn’t truly understood the mom job.
Before we take on this new role we think we will never have the screaming baby on the airplane, the two year old in a public tantrum. Ours won’t be the elementary school child that gets sent to the principal’s office. We believe our preteen will never march up the stairs in defiance muttering under her breath. It is someone else’s teenager that sneaks out of the house in rebellion. Our children will never run up the credit card that we gave them for emergencies only.
Got news for you mom, you won’t experience all children challenges but you will have your fair share. It really is just part of the amazing job of being mom. The best way to be prepared to deal with these encounters is simply to expect them. It’s so much easier to do any job especially motherhood when you plan that along with the great moments of life you’ll have a few of the difficult variety.
So here’s what to do, first make sure you’re the one in charge when they are still shorter than you. Take time before a flight to read up on how to take that baby on a plane. Stay calm and in charge as you pick up that two-year old off the floor and head home for punishment. Let that preteen mumble occasionally knowing she will come back downstairs at some point because she does have to eat. Make a plan on dealing with the teen rebellion understanding it’s part of their growth toward independence. And watch over that credit card to keep them from breaking the bank.
Then the simplest and final answer comes from this astute mother, Kate Samperi… ”Before becoming a mother I had a hundred theories on how to bring up children. Now I have seven children and only one theory: Love them, especially when they least deserve to be loved”.
And remember this when you come upon that mother in Wal-Mart give her a quick hug, a smile and tell her you got through it and she will too.