It's been a LONG time since Madaline threw a temper tantrum of epic proportions like the one she thre Saturday evening at Old Navy. A throw myself on the floor, roll around and scream at the top of my lungs kind of fit. It all stemmed from me telling her "No" to a pair of clearance jelly sandals. And, then to make matters even worse, I had what I'm calling a brief moment of stupidity. As I struggling with her towards the exit, I saw a bench. And, for a small moment I thought I could salvage this little shopping trip. Perhaps a few moments collecting herself while sitting on a bench would be enough to correct her bad banshee behavior.
Nope. It only aided in escalating the situation. The wailing, the shrieking and the 'No Mommy's" got louder and more hysterical as the seconds ticked by. And, the looks from my fellow store patrons got nastier and more obvious in their disgust of my daughter's behavior and my inability to curb it. Sensing that there was no end in sight I got down on her level - Looked her in the eye and firmly stated "This is enough - your making a fool of yourself - put your shoes & socks on NOW or we are going home". It seemed to take an eternity as I counted to 10, giving Madaline one final chance to comply with my request. And, then, once again I struggled to pick up my flailing child, almost dropping her on the concrete floor. (thank you lady looking at the coats near by for your overly LOUD and clearly for my benefit *GASP* as I almost dropped her on her head - I appreciate it) Exasperated and frustrated, I composed myself, got a better grip on my 'Toddler with Super Human STrength', picked my head up, put a smile on my face and walked as calmly as I could out the door. Of course, as we left, my daughter serenade customers with an encore performance of "Mommy, put me down" and "No Mommy NO". I, on the other hand, got another 25 minutes of temper tantrum complete with added bonus tracks of "Turn this Car Around" and "Take me Back, Right now"on our drive home.
But, really - It's wasn't Madaline's behavior that bothered me the most. It was the behavior of other adults that got me. I know she was loud. I know she was being naughty. I know that her screaming and yelling hurt your ears.But, really, were the icy stares of disbelief necessary? Did you really need to shake your head in disapproval at me? Don't get me wrong, at first, I did find your sideways glances of curiosity rather humorous, but when they morphed into the head shaking looks of disapproval? Yeah. There was nothing funny about you anymore.
I'm sorry. Truly sorry. I apologize to you right now for her behavior. But, know this - no amount of disapproving glances you shot my way will ever compare to the how much my inner monologue will berate myself in the days and weeks to come. Your nasty looks filled with judgment and skepticism of my ability to be a parent have done nothing but tear at the fragile fibers already barely hold together my confidence of being a mom. Each narrowed eye stare sent my way makes me ask myself - Where did I go wrong? What should I have done differently? Every head shake of disapproval makes me wonder if maybe we should have just stayed home? And, the larger implications of your reaction to my daughter's behavior? It makes me questions my over all ability to be a parent. Maybe I'm not cut out of be a mom. It makes me doubt myself, even though I know in my heart, I am a good mom.
And, so, a word of advice - stop. Stop with the nasty looks and the disapproving stares. It doesn't help. Perhaps what you can do next time you is give me one of those nice, I know what your going through smiles. Perhaps a quick glance of understanding. Even the knowing nod of having been there done that. Because, it will make a world of difference. It just might be the one small thing that helps hold together my parental confidence and makes it stronger - especially in those moments you are witnessing - when I probably need it the most.