Tis the season for making a list and checking it twice, right?
Hahahaha. I throw my head back in sarcastic laughter at the thought of anything going quickly or smoothly with my two girls in tow. We made it into the mall in one piece, my 2-year-old screaming "I wanna carry youuuu" at the top of her lungs the entire time I was checking out at the register.
By the time we were parading our violent entourage out of the mall, she had managed to wriggle one foot free of her strap in the stroller and was belting out "MAMA" with a red face brighter than Santa's hat. It was pitiful, and I felt badly for her, but I simply couldn't manage to carry her and push the stroller at the same time. And, we were about 100 feet from reaching the safe haven of the parking lot and some fresh, cold air that I hoped would calm her until reaching the car.
A kind woman stopped me because she thought Daphne was hurt. "Oh, no." I said, calmly as I could. "She just wants me to hold her, and we're headed to our car right now." The woman looked at me as if I was a heartless Grinch, but I smiled and kept on truckin'. "Thank you." I said as I annoying forged ahead. Just. Gotta. Get. To. The. Car.
Whew. Made it. Should we even attempt Target? I did the multitasking in my head of thinking through all possible scenarios of when or how I could get to Target at a better time or later date or without my children. But, then, Matilda (4) chimed in to say how much she wanted to go to Target.
Ummm. Fine. Let's go.
Carts are not handy devices for carrying products I'm shopping for at Target. Shopping carts are jungle gyms for my children when I'm shopping at Target. Up, down, in, out, around, through, and puuuuushhhhh! It's a disaster.
We were in the card aisle (which, apparently we need a bazillion options for - I have no time for this, people! Cards should just say a simple phrase and be done with it. Voila! Keep it simple! I don't need 800 choices to say Happy Birthday to my 10 year old niece, thank you very much) when I am perusing the options, only to turn around and see Daphne out of the cart. Lickety split, that girl is up and out, no problemo.
She is occupying herself with a singing-monkey card when I go back to reading whatever selection I have in my hand. Then I hear "Ma'am! Your daughter?" I look up and see no problem whatsoever. I look to the woman who looks like she just saw a leprechaun and she gasps "Uh, your daughter was about to climb OUT of the cart!"
"Oh, thank you." I say calmly, knowing that my sure-footed Matilda was never actually in danger. The woman continued to stand back and watch us like we were animals at the zoo. I tried to assure her that she was fine and then I helped Matilda down out of the cart, but I'm certain that woman left thinking I was a completely irresponsible mother. Or not. Whatever. I have no time to wonder because I have to find a birthday card and keep my children from pulling down the display of gift cards at the end of the aisle.
Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the kindness of strangers. There have absolutely been times when a person's intervention was genuinely helpful and I'm grateful for it. But, there are some days I just want to yell "I KNOW! OKAY? I'M JUST TRYING TO KEEP US ALL ALIVE!"
Each kid is different. Each mom is different. And, I like to try and do my best to give all of us moms out there the benefit of the doubt that WE KNOW OUR KIDS BEST. Period. I don't need a critical eye. I need a helping hand.
So, next time you are that mom with the screaming kids - just keep going. Take a deep breath (when you can) and know you are NOT alone. And if you are the kind stranger concerned for the well-being of a child, their mother, and her sanity - please, for heaven's sake, just say these five simple words: "How can I help you?" and leave your expectations in your own cart of worries.
Happy Holidays, moms. Ho-ho-hold on tight. We'll make it.