She’s walking through the grocery store with more tiny humans than should be legal. One in the cart, two holding hands walking beside her, and one is tied to her with some strange contraption. They walk through the snack aisle and one of the bigger boys helps her by grabbing the huge carton of goldfish. Then when he’s asked to put it in the cart, it happens. Life. Is. Over. How dare she not open them right this second and give him some?
Then that big boy who’s confused over the goldfish has scared the toddler riding in the cart. His flailing wakes the baby tied to her, and within seconds it’s pure chaos. We’ve all seen this happen, but today I have a confession.
I am THAT Mom With Screaming Kids in the Grocery Store
See, here’s the thing. My son A-Man is autistic, so going to the grocery store can easily overwhelm him. There’s so many different sounds, smells, colors, people, and so much more. Add to that the adventure that is getting all four of my children into the car, and the grocery store trip is basically a recipe for a sensory meltdown. Then you can add to that the fact that one kid sets off the others, and that there are four of them, and the grocery store can quickly become a nightmare.
You may have seen me, or moms exactly like me, while waiting in the checkout line, and you may have even given me a look that I will forever remember. It’s okay. I don’t blame you, in fact, I’ve been that mom before too. I know what you’re thinking.
Can’t I just control my kids? If grocery stores are this difficult, why not just leave the kids at home? Why does she have that many anyways?!
Well, I’m going to let you in on a few secrets about that mom that may open your eyes a bit (and open your heart a bit the next time you see that mom with the screaming kids at the grocery store).
That Mom Is Trying
She’s heated her coffee up more times this morning than you can count, and she’s counting down the minutes until it’s socially acceptable to drink wine. She’s poured so many sippy cups, changed so many diapers, and sang “Mama Duck” so many times that she isn’t even sure who she is anymore.
The grocery store trip was the last thing she wanted to do today, because getting four tiny humans to the store, trying to find groceries, and getting them all home is exhausting. There’s also a chance that this is the first and only time she’s leaving the house all week. She’s trying her best, even if you can’t tell.
That Mom Can’t Win
If she is ignoring her child’s wails, she’s either a monster who doesn’t care about her kids, or an ill-fit mother who doesn’t care that she’s inconveniencing the entire store. If she gives into her child’s fit, she’s raising “a brat” to be part of this “entitled generation”.
My kids all get very different reactions when they act up, whether it’s a tantrum, a sensory meltdown, or simply a bad attitude. A-Man needs time to process whatever it is that’s upsetting him, and he sometimes needs extra sensory input. Once he calms down we have a talk and continue on our way.
If Mr. C is throwing a tantrum over something, he can usually be reasoned with by talking. Baby M needs to be ignored for a few minutes or distracted by something, depending on how severe his meltdown is.
The thing is, no matter what we do when our kids are screaming in the store, it’s likely going to be the “wrong thing” when viewed from the outside.
That Mom Needs a Smile
More than anything else, that mom needs a smile. She doesn’t need any more dirty looks. She doesn’t need to hear about how your children were always perfectly well behaved at the store. And, for the love of all that is Holy, she does not need to hear anything about “kids these days”.
She needs a smile. She needs you to tell her, “My youngest did that all the time”. She needs you to be patient while she’s trying to load her groceries up for the cashier, and she needs you to skip the “subtle” sigh of annoyance that would so naturally fit.
Maybe she needs you to tell her that her kids aren’t bothering you at all so she can take her time. This world has plenty of nastiness. Be the friend she needs right now. You may just be the only friendly face she sees all day.
I know that it’s annoying when you’re trying to focus on grocery shopping and there’s a kid hysterical in the next aisle. I know that it’s annoying when you’re in line with your milk and there’s a mom with a cart full of food and babies everywhere screaming in front of you who pulls out her coupons. I get it.
But please, understand that everything that mom does is not to annoy you. She’s trying her best, she really can’t win, and she really just needs a smile. I know, because I am that mom with the screaming kids in the grocery store.
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