I Was "That Mom" in Target
The one who had to carry her child out of the store as she cried hysterically... screaming out, "I want the toyyyy!".
The one I likely judged before having kids with a cocky mental condescension that "I'd never let MY kids behave that way."
The one whose child was melting down in the toy aisle. Despite having 6 beautiful Barbie dolls at home she just HAD TO have the set of 3 colorful mermaid dolls, loudly and tearfully proclaiming that she couldn't go home without them.
The one who delivered her daughter who had that box of dolls in a death grip, to her father and muttered, "I need to step away for a moment."
The one who speed-walked to the clearance corner and began paging through the rack of sweatpants, half looking for a pair to comfortably house her post-partum body and half using the feel of the fabrics to calm her nervous system.
The one who left her baby and the full shopping cart to her partner in order to carry her overwhelmed four year old to the car, holding her close when she refused to put on her coat.
The one who barely made it to the car before letting the frustrated and exhausted tears fall.
We all have moments of overwhelm, children and adults alike. We all have moments of disappointment, anxiety, and intense emotion. It's what we do in those moments that defines whether we heal and rise, spiral downward, or remain just as we are.
Are you taking note of what caused these moments and the lessons learned from them? For example, upon getting to the car I noticed the time... about an hour beyond when we'd typically be settling in for our bedtime books. It was far too late to have taken her into that highly stimulating environment. That wasn't the only lesson learned or reminder this experience had been given. I also:
Realized I'd attended to my daughter's emotions while ignoring any judgmental faces from fellow shoppers, something my highly sensitive self had trouble with in the past.
Been reminded of how important it is to her that I listen to her explanations of WHY these dolls were important in her eyes.
Appreciated my husband's grounded support and was grateful for our partnership in parenting.
Had the opportunity to practice our deep breathing together as she nearly hyperventilated from emotional distress and I tried to maintain my composure.
Was reminded of the good in humanity as a kind older gentleman stopped us gently to cheer her up with a sticker as I hurried us toward the door.
Realized how much she needed intentional positive attention with this adjustment of baby brother now requiring more attention from us.
Remembered the importance of helping her to regulate upon returning home with love and understanding instead of punishing with induced feelings of shame.
For both children AND adults, remember that intense behaviors are not just behaviors. They are a hint at the emotions and needs underneath the surface. Much like the behavior of a houseplant wilting or thriving often indicates deeper needs beneath the soil, we also need to dig deeper. Allow yourself to get vulnerable and explore what's under the surface with your children, your significant other, your family members, and most importantly... yourself!
Have you had a moment like this as well? What lessons or reminders did it bring forth for you?