I’m not proud of it, but it happened—the mom meltdown—in broad daylight, in the middle of a crowded store. Oh yes, this can happen. Meltdowns are not just for two-year-olds.
A few weeks ago, after being stuck in the house all day, I just felt this sudden urge to get out of the house. What I really wanted was some time for myself, without the kids. My wonderful husband—who knew I was close to losing it—agreed to stay home with the kids. But, of course, I felt a pang of mom guilt about leaving them at home. I knew they were also dying to get out of the house themselves. So, I left the baby at home and took the older two with me to Target to do some shopping.
On my way to the store, I was optimistic. I thought, this is going to be great! My kids are going to behave. They are going to quietly follow me around the store and be little angels while I shop and buy myself something pretty. Looking back, I wonder what the heck was I thinking.
What happened next at Target resulted in my mom meltdown moment. The kids were frantically chasing each other through every aisle, playing tag or hide-and-seek, laughing and pushing each other, and subsequently knocking things around. I could feel the heat and judgment from other shoppers looking over at me. Something started to boil up inside of me, but I kept it under control for the moment.
And just as I picked up a nice pair of heels for myself, Connor, my 5-year-old, asked for water. I sighed as I put the heels down. We walked all the way to the front of the store where the water fountain was and then came all the way back to the shoe area. At this point, I was more than slightly annoyed. All I wanted to do was shop in peace!
Only two seconds later, Connor said to me, “Mom, I need to go potty, and it’s number two.”
That’s when I lost it.
“What? Why didn’t you tell me that before, when you were getting a drink right next to the bathroom? And you have to go number two, here at the store? Why must you always go number two at stores? All I wanted to do is have a little bit of time to shop in peace! Why, oh why, did I bring you guys with me?”
And there I was, having a full-blown mommy meltdown and tantrum for myself, in public, in the middle of the shoe aisle at Target. At this point, I didn’t care who was watching me or judging me. I couldn’t hold it in.
After a few minutes, I forced myself to calm down. As I looked into the sweet, little teary-eyed faces of my children, I knew that I had made a mistake. The next wave of mom guilt came over me, and I was sad that I had misbehaved. Now it was me that was embarrassing my kids in public, and I felt really bad.
We quickly moved into another aisle of the store, and I got down to the kids eye-level, hugged them both, and apologized for my behavior. I asked the kids to forgive me. I told them that I was frustrated at the situation, but that it wasn’t a good excuse for bad behavior. They both hugged me in return and accepted my apology. I’m happy to report that they behaved perfectly for the remainder of our shopping trip!
I’m telling this story, as embarrassing as it is, because I feel it’s important to share what I learned from this incident with fellow moms.
- It’s okay to show your kids that you’re not perfect. What’s important is to consistently show kids how to respond the right way when mistakes are made. Kids will learn by example.
- It’s healthy for kids to know that mommies and daddies mess up sometimes. It allows kids to see their parents in a different, more relatable way.
- Moms, it’s okay to carve out time for yourself—and only yourself—once in a while. Please take the time for yourself instead of getting sucked into the trap of mom guilt. It’s better that you take an hour or two away from the kids and return rejuvenated, instead of the other way around, which may ultimately result in a public mom meltdown.