“Stop driving me crazy, ” I barked at my children in the drug store.
Two-year-old Jared was wound up, and not about to let my cranky mood dampen his excitement. Five-year-old Olivia was apparently also ignoring my mental and physical collapse.
“You don’t need to touch everything,” I screamed. “And stop pushing.”
My yelling only seemed to incite them to more random acts of destruction. I tried a new tactic.
“Please, guys, please be good. Mommy doesn’t feel well.”
I was feverish and lethargic, having just left the doctor’s office where they confirmed that I did indeed have a sinus infection. I wanted to pick up some decongestant, and go home take my antibiotics and pain reliever and crawl into bed. But my children were creating unbelievable obstacles.
“LET’S GO!” I shouted with utter disgust. “I can’t DO ANYTHING with you two!”
At that moment, a well-meaning, older woman said to me calmly, “You know, dear, it’s their job to drive you crazy.”
“Yes,” I growled angrily, “but they don’t have to do their job so well!”
I stormed off with my children, my decongestant, and whatever other trinkets my children had stashed into my shopping basket. I was in a bad mood, felt lousy, and was annoyed by the unsolicited public advice of a nosy older woman. But mostly I was sickened by my own words and actions.
I know I had every excuse to lose it that day in the drug store. But I still never imagined that I would someday be seen as the “Angry Mother” — the woman who smacks (or berates) her kid in the supermarket line. Before I had children, I assumed that “Angry Mom” was stupid, evil, weak, and pathetic. But my own actions that day in the drug store taught me a very valuable lesson: “Never judge another mommy unless you’ve walked in her mommy shoes.”
I suggest that from now on that we should all try to give moms a break. We shouldn’t assume that a haggard mother is an abusive medusa just because she snapped at her adorable kiddies at the end of a long day, in the end of a very long week, in what has been a very long year. Given the right pressure and circumstances, I suspect that even Mother Teresa would have lost her cool with a couple of toddlers in tow.
And let’s face it — it’s incredibly difficult being a parent in our society.
Sometimes I feel as if I’m under a microscope with all of America to see and judge. The people on airplanes who give you dirty looks if your children cry during a flight, are the same people who are horrified when you raise your voice at your kids in K-mart. I imagine some people (probably single people with dogs) think that children should sit quietly and obediently on their parent’s laps at all times.
But children are not domesticated animals! And I do agree that it is their job to be children, even if that sometimes drives their mothers and observers insane.