we went to the grocery store today. bella had decided, upon entering the store that she wasnot having it.
i buckled her in, gave her her sippy and her snack, and told her, "you know what we are doing. please behave." (because, as you know, reasoning with toddlers is so practical.)
we made our rounds about the produce section, and about the time we passed the bananas, this whole sitting in the seat, being well behaved thing had just about run its course.
so she started climbing out. bella has always been a little houdini, getting out of her swaddlers, early and often. and that talent has carried over to the grocery cart strap. there isn't one that holds my child in. we have tightened them as tightly as they can go without making it a tourniquet on her tiny baby body, and sure enough she wiggles her way up and out of them.
i put her back down and before her butt is even in the seat she is up again. i put her down and hold her by the arm, not allowing her to stand again. and so began the end of my sanity.
she began to wail in a way that i had not witnessed since she was a tiny little tyrant, screaming for the boob. and she would. not. stop.
i offered her food, water, to be held. but she was not going to stand in the cart. i was not going to be that mom picking her kid up off the floor, saying, "i don't know how this happened!"
for the next 30 minutes, she continued to scream. without cessation.
during that time, i walked around the store in a haze, like in the movies when everything is blurry and kind of slow motion because all i could hear was her screaming.
i wish i could say i didn't care about what other people think. and honestly, i don't care about what they think. but i am not impervious to what they say or do. as i was finishing up my list, i began to notice that there were two very distinct groups of people around me. surprisingly, the delineating factors of these two groups aren't based on age, gender or race. or even if they have kids or not.
first, there was that group of people who, mostly, were probably familiar with children. they were sympathetic. they looked at me with a knowing smile, as if to say, "i know what you're going through lady. i'm glad i'm not you, but i have been there." or "it's ok. kids cry". some of them actually did say those things or stopped and to try and make bella laugh or smile, telling her how she is way too pretty to be crying so much. there were men and women, old and young. many of them there by themselves.
but then, there was a smaller group. the group that hates children. or hates mothers. or hates mothers with their children. or something like that. they would shoot me glances, like, "can't you get that kid to shut up??" trust me lady, if i could, do you think i would be walking around the store with a screaming toddler? there was one lady in particular. we got in line behind her, because it was the shortest line which usually means the fastest way out. as i pulled my cart and screaming child up behind her, she gave me this look that made me feel like the most insignificant person on the planet. and then she shook her head. and looked at me again, with an expression of disgust, a little anger maybe, some contempt. whatever it was, it was ugly.
and right there, in the middle of kroger, humiliated and defeated, i started to cry. just a few tears. but it was the only time in my recent memory that someone has made me cry.
maybe she was having a bad day. maybe she was tired of hearing her kid cry and the LAST thing she wanted was to stand in line and listen to someone else's kid cry. i get that. but give me a break. you've obviously had this moment once or twice. with a 5 year old in your cart, there is no way you have escaped the meltdown-in-the-store phase.
the thing that was the most frustrating is that, even though i felt like at any moment, my ear drums would rupture and i would be deaf for the rest of my life, the crying didn't bother me. there was the small moment where i couldn't really think straight and found myself standing in front of the basil, getting exasperated because i couldn't find it. but the crying wasn't what sent me over the edge. it was the feeling i got when that woman cast her judgement at me with such reckless abandon, the feeling that i was a gnat. that i was no more than a mosquito. that i had no business being in her presence.
people like miss snotty pants grocery shopper lady? you were a child once. you probably screamed just like this, in a grocery store similar to this one, while your poor, tired mother tried to shush you and get everything she needed to feed your cranky butt. if you have such a problem with noise and chaos, you may need to reconsider where you spend your time. a grocery store in the middle of the day may not be the best place for you. also, family restaurants are probably not the wisest choice.