Because what you didn’t see was 10 minutes earlier, when two of my four-year-olds brought down an entire mannequin display in the lingerie department for fun. You also didn’t witness them hide my car keys in the baking cabinet, causing a three-hour delay and garbage can search, and you most certainly didn’t catch them coloring on our brand new kitchen table with markers.
There’s no doubt in my mind that coming down to a child’s level, speaking calmly, and discussing emotions are beneficial acts. But when you have multiple children, all usually needing something at the exact same time, the ability to turn into Dr. Phil while also paying at the register is not going to happen.
My point, dear Brittany, and anyone else who likes to give parenting advice at Target, is unless you’ve walked in my shoes on my sticky floors covered in the yogurt the boys threw before we even left the house, just don’t.
You didn’t witness my calming voice at 5:45 a.m. when they came bolting into my room. It became more stern by 10:00 a.m. when they climbed onto the hood of the car while I got things loaded. By noon, when they broke the blinds in the kitchen, I started to lose my cool. And at 4:00 p.m., when you witnessed me yell at my kids, I had already been tested countless times and was exhausted beyond belief.
The best thing anyone can do when they see a Hot Mess Express parent struggling to keep it together? Simple. Don’t give parenting advice. Hold a door open, stop a child from bolting down the aisle by blocking them, or just simply walk by and say, “You’re doing a great job. Keep it up.”
Whether you’ve got one child or 10, special needs or strong-willed, each of our experiences is uniquely ours. And whether you’re putting your toddler in a timeout in the frozen food section or yelling at them in the parking lot to get in the car, more power to you. So much of parenting is survival, and the best thing we can do to support one another on this crazy journey is be cheerleaders because let’s face it: We all doubt ourselves enough already, and there’s no universal instruction book for how to manage it all.
So to all the Brittanys of the world, keep rocking those classes. If you really want to help me out the next time you see my circus of a life in the checkout line, hand my kids a lollipop, tell them a joke, and call it a day. Because the last thing a mom deep in the trenches of survival needs to hear is parenting advice on what she “should” be doing. Instead of discipline, maybe give advice on which wine to pair with the next tantrum.
*Previously published on Alamo City Moms Blog September 2018