Today I was shopping at the local HomeGoods, and, as I rounded the corner to the clearance aisle (because I can’t resist a bargain in a bargain store), a mom told her two little kids to move over by their grandma so I could get past them.
She then gently herded one child by the shoulder and another by the arm. One of them, I’m not sure which, started loudly protesting, “Stop! Owwww! You’re hurting me!”
“I didn’t hurt you,” the mom said calmly, yet seemingly with that minor tinge of panic in her voice that moms get when kids publicly overreact, because she had no way of knowing if I’m some “Karen”* who would follow her into the parking lot, write down her license plate, and then make a complaint to child protective services over a molehill made into a mountain by a child who was maybe five.
“It’s okay,” I said. “I have six kids.”
“Oh, thank you!” she lightly laughed.
Then grandma, also laughing, asked how I could be out shopping alone if I have six kids.
I told her my youngest two are 13 and my 20-year-old is home for the summer. I didn’t get into the fact that my older teens were also home and my husband is currently working from home, because that doesn’t really matter so much. My youngest two are 13.
All you warrior moms of little kids: Your day will come.
Someday? You will be able to go shopping alone again. I promise. I know it doesn’t feel like it now, but it. will. happen.
Just keep giving your littles everything you’ve got now. Give them your love, your expectations, your consistent discipline. Give them “no” as often as you give them “yes,” and give them time to be bored and figure out how to un-bore themselves. Also give them enriching activities, reading time snuggled in a comfy chair, and time outdoors to explore and get dirty. Give them the security that comes with parents who are in charge.** This is all part of giving them your love.
The more of this you give them now, the sooner you will be shopping on your own. Cross my heart.
And of equal importance? Give your fellow moms support and grace. Let them know you understand the meltdowns and dramatic episodes. Let them know you’ve been there, or are there, too. Let them know you are a safe place, even if you only interact for 10 seconds in the clearance aisle of HomeGoods. All moms, even those of us with older kids, need regular doses of this kind of encouragement and community.
*My apologies to anyone actually named Karen.
**I highly recommend The Collapse of Parenting by Dr. Leonard Sax.