Tuesday, May 3, 2011

That Mom

I see her almost everywhere I go. The other day, she was at the zoo. Sometimes, she’s out shopping. I see her all the time. She’s “that mom” everyone seems to notice. You know the one.

She’s at the end of her rope. She’s had “just about enough.” She’s saying things to her dear sweet kids that sound just terrible. She is frustrated, with anger and exhaustion written on her face.  **As a disclaimer… She is the mom who is frustrated, not abusive. We all know the difference and I want to be clear. Abuse is NEVER okay.

Before you judge her, take a look and see your own face. I know I see mine.

I don’t want to be her. Fact is, I loath her. Despite all my desire to be unflappable, patient, sweet and kind, I find myself becoming “that mom” all too often.

And so, I’ve quit judging “that mom” when I see her in the grocery. Instead of looking at her crossly, I can smile at her and make a little joke about the situation, bringing a bit of humor to her day and lightening her load.

I’ve been in her shoes, with a shopping list that must get filled before a scheduled doctor’s appointment and whining children who are picking at each other and touching every breakable thing on the shelves. I’ve been the mom who had to drag her child, kicking and yelling, from a store. I’ve also been the mom who let her toddler cry in the grocery when he/she wasn’t getting his/her own way rather than give in and promote a bad behavior. I’ve been embarrassed in almost every way imaginable. I’ve been tired. I’ve been short-tempered. I’ve been ugly.

It’s a miserable feeling, isn’t it?

And so, I go back to Mom 101 from time to time. Remembering the good lessons, some hard learned. Lessons like…

1. Don’t leave home with a tired little one. He/she will make you regret every moment and then fall asleep fifteen minutes before arriving home, therefore refusing any additional sleep that would make them tolerable.

2. Be sure little ones are not hungry. Feed them some healthy food that has long lasting energy, best if it has some protein. Cheese and crackers, a handful of nuts, or a good breakfast of eggs just seems to stick with them longer. Hungry littles are grouchy littles.

3. Find ways for them to be engaged in what you are doing. Riding in a car, riding in a cart, riding in the car to the next store, and then riding in another cart can get rather boring. Rather than bringing toys along, help them learn to engage with their surroundings.

  • Look for objects of a certain color.
  • Encourage kids to say hello and be friendly to other shoppers.
  • Share conversations as you shop.
  • Let the kids help you look for things on your list.
  • Talk about the beginning sound/letter of each item as you put it into your cart.
  • Have a lesson on nutrition as you walk the supermarket aisles.
  • Teach kids what to look for in the fresh produce section.
  • Do a bit of math, totaling the purchase prices, comparing prices, finding shapes, looking for patterns.
  • Tell fill in the blank stories while you wait in line. Example: The elephant was going to the zoo to see the zebra. It’s great, silly fun.

4. Change it up. When shopping isn’t going well, take a break. Go to a park for fifteen minutes and let the kids blow off some steam. Go to a restaurant for a shared dessert.

5. Know when enough is enough. Go home if possible. Try again another time.

And if you see “that mom,” share a smile with her and share a bit of her burden. Open the doors for her and don’t judge too harshly. She’s doing a super-hard job and working with folks who have very little logic and are prone to temper-tantrums.

She might just be me. :)


Got a great tip for going out in public with little ones? Share, please! Leave me a comment.


  1. Yeah, I'm That Mom too... and just as often, I'm Biting Sarcasm Mom.

    Actually, the moms that really makes me cringe are not the short-tempered ones, but the ones whose children are so accustomed to bribery that every time they're at the store, they're trapped into buying them something in spite of their increasingly horrid, whiny behavior. I feel so bad for those parents.

  2. Oh we're all that mom sometimes aren't we? I'd like to add that I'm also the mum with the really bad hair. Which just makes me feel worse when I am struggling. Mental note: make appointment with hairdresser, so that next time I'm at the end of my rope in public, at least my hair will look nice!

    Tips for going out... I carry a little box with some placticine (modelling clay) in it for emergency distraction. I feel like a magician whenever I pull it out, saying "And now, watch me make a rabbit / speed boat / tree". It gets them engaged and cuts through the negativity in a flash.

  3. Indeed... My version of the scripture about "that which I want to do, I do not, and that which I do not want to do, that I do" - for me it sounds like "I want to be a godly example of joyful motherhood, and instead come across as a fantastic advertisement for birth control..." :\


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