Am I THAT Mom?


I still remember the days when I was young and single.  I'd be out in the mall shopping or eating at a restaurant when suddenly my shopping or dining experience would be interrupted by the sound of a screaming toddler.  You know the sound or, at least, variations of it:

Wahhhhh!  I don't want to.  I don't want to.  No. No. No.

Okay, and if the child was still too young to verbalize his or her feelings, then the meltdown would sound more like screaming and shrieking. 

In any case, usually at times like this, I'd roll my eyes.  Perhaps I would even glare at the exchange between mother and child.  I almost always had an opinion.  Wow, that mom can't handle her kid.  I know my kids would never behave like that. 

Oh, if I could ever take back those words or those ridiculous judgements, I would.  Really, I was young, single, and never had any siblings.  I honestly didn't know what it was like to have a toddler, and so, like many people, I sat on my high throne, casting disapproving glances to others.

Fast forward.  Now I'm the one with the screaming two year-old having meltdowns in stores, restaurants, and even at my place of work.  It doesn't happen all the time, but there are a moments like--

The time I placed a monkey backpack leash on him at the airport.  He revolted so tumultuously that he made my husband spill a smoothie on the plush new airport carpet.

The time that he screamed, kicked, and almost tried hitting me while I was trying to pull him away from the elevator at work.

The time that we had a heated exchange in the parking lot because he wouldn't go into his car seat and kept sneaking around me to get to the driver's seat.

Yes, these are less than stellar moments for the baby books.  And all of a sudden, like magic, it became roll reversal.  I had my audience of judges, and I was THAT mom.  I was now the mom that people were glaring at...I was the mom receiving scolding looks from passerbys.  It was embarrassing, frustrating, and humbling all at the same time.  Was this karma coming back to get me?

Today, I now know what it's like to be a mom with a toddler.  I've now learned that toddlers don't always listen, and their anger and stubbornness only become amplified when they haven't taken a nap.  When I see a mom in this meltdown situation, I cast a sympathetic glance and maybe even call out, "Oh, I've been there."   It's the least I can do.  After all, you know the mom doesn't want this kind of attention.  She's not deliberately trying to ruin everyone's dinner.  Her child just doesn't know any better.

I've now made a promise to myself.  Even when my little boy is older and grown, I will not block out those less than stellar toddler days.  Yes, they might not be fun at the time, but they carry a life lesson--a lesson that sometimes we all need to sit back, chill, and not take life so seriously.  The moment, the tantrum, the screaming will pass, and in the end, we'll always love our toddlers just as much as we did before they started to misbehave. 

Oh, and to those onlookers who are still casting disapproving glances, especially those who have been moms themselves...please, be patient. The interruption will pass...I promise.


  1. We're in the tantrum phase too, and it's horrible sometimes! I feel like a new and completely defiant child took the place of my sweet, baby girl that I know and love.
    I have a younger brother, so I got a first-hand account of what toddlers could be like. But I still thought my kid wasn't going to be like that... and she's just like that.

  2. Oh yes, I too was one of those judgemental jerks and then when I had my own bundle of tantrum I realized I had no idea. I always thought it was the parenting style - but kids are definitely born with a personality and will power. It's good to be reminded we are all human. Great post!

  3. Oh my, good luck! We went through a period of time I just didn't take Scotty with me if I could leave him at home! We've had to leave our cart in the middle of an aisle and leave the grocery store a few times too! We've all been there :)

  4. I love your post. Every day we have one tantrum moment with Noarai. And I love the idea of thinking that I do have mines as well. Thanks for the post. I invite you to Daddy's time Friday. Following you from Friendly Friday Blog HOP.

  5. Guilty of that same thing...the eye roll and the that'll never be me! Shesh! Toddlers are so unpredictable and have mood swings like crazy! You should seriously write a book, A. You always have such wonderful things to say!

  6. Oh, I feel you. I had one of those moments today with my little girl in the middle of Target. A really nice, older lady smiled at me and said "oh, I remember those days."

  7. Oh totally been there and had the glances too! hang in there, we're STILL in that phase!

  8. We eat a lot of humble pie once we become parents, don't we? I regret the looks I gave people back in my "perfect parenting" days - long before I was a parent!

  9. Debbie is so right. In my pre-Nate days, I cast around a lot of judgment in a variety of parenting areas. At least I didn't voice it - does that count for something? My good friend, the mother of a 16 year old, still vividly remembers the day she carried her stiff as a board, screaming like a banshee two year old under her arm through the streets of Manhattan and a passerby yelled at her that she shouldn't have been allowed to have children. People have no idea how tough it can be to control a toddler! And my upstairs neighbor, whom I've only met once, recently called me to offer some "tips and techniques" because she heard Nate crying in the middle of the night. Thanks, lady.

  10. I learned early on to "never say never" when it comes to parenting! Maybe it's selective memory, but I honestly don't remember my kids having meltdowns in the middle of the store. Not that I'm a huge advocate of corporal punishment, but they were not fond of the "spanking spoon" and I rarely had to use it because the threat was enough. (oohhh, that sounds pretty bad, doesn't it?) Once I was in Wal-Mart though and my nephew threw himself on the floor (*gasp* yes, the floor at Wal-Mart but at least we were in the little portrait studio area). He was flailing about throwing a tantrum and I was ignoring him. Auntie doesn't play that! An older lady glared at me as if I were the "meanest mommy on earth" and gave my nephew a piece of chocolate candy. It shut him up, but I was more upset with the lady than my nephew. I refuse to reward such behavior. I try to be patient with other parents as I feel it is there prerogative to parent in the style that they choose.


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