On this occasion, we had a great time. The kids were in good moods. We looked at all the fun things in the store and we picked out the prettiest apples. We laughed at little inside jokes as we ate our hot dogs and lemonade. I had thought ahead and packed cut carrots and cucumbers and grapes. The kids gobbled them up. We took a photo to send to Daddy. It was a good time.
As we cleaned away the garbage and I started searching for my receipt, a nice older woman came up to me.
"Your kids are darling. They were so well behaved. I can tell you're a good mother." She smiled and went her way.
I just stared at her with a trickle of fear creeping over me.
Do people think I'm a good mother because my children are well behaved?
What do they think of me the rest of the time?
Let's think back a few months to another Costco visit.........
We were completely out of toilet paper and diapers. The combination would not have been pretty so I made a quick decision to head to Costco.
The kids were not happy to go. They wanted to stay home.
I dashed through the aisles as Lydia whined and Collin tried to smack her every time she tried to grab hold of the cart.
"PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE can't we buy that huge gallon of chocolate milk?"
"No sweetie, I'll just make it at home. STOP getting in your brother's face. Collin STOP licking the cart!"
"Mom PLEASE can I get that yellow dress?!?! It's so pretty!!!!!!!!!!"
"What? Oh, um, no, it looks like a quinceañera dress on crack. Collin stop yelling!"
"MOMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM! When are we eating? OWWWWWWWW, Collin just hit me!"
"Widia is touching me!"
"Lydia, stop teasing him!"Collin keep your hands to YOURSELF!!!!!!!!"
Young mother with a newborn strapped to her chest covers her babies ears.
Finally we make it to the checkout line. Both children subdued with a promise of a treat drink with lunch.
I have enough cash for two hot dog meals and two "berry smoothies".
I crush through the masses to deliver lunch to my apparently starving children.
"MOMMMMMMMMMMMMMM! I wanted PIZZA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" screams Lydia at the top of her lungs.
"Lydia shut your mouth NOW and eat your hot dog".
"You shouldn't be so MEAN to me!!!!!!!!!"
"Collin, let me cut up your hot dog for you"
I want it BIG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
Old couple glares at us for interrupting their discussion on the pros and cons of generic denture adhesive.
"Geez, whatever. Just eat it"
Kids eat food and poke one another as I try to gain serenity by ignoring them and looking at Pinterest on my phone. There are no cut veggies and no photos taken.
I look up just in time to see Collin start to spill his entire smoothie onto his lap.
"Collin!!!!! STOP!!!!!!! You can't take the lid off".
He calmly watches me put the lid back on.
He then starts to SCREAM.
I honestly have no idea what happened, except that there must have been an actual demon inside that smoothie.
He then chucks said demonic smoothie at me.
I see at that time that every single face in the Costco cafe is turned looking at us. Some are watching the flow of the smoothie down my shirt. Some are looking at my screaming 3 year old. A few are noticing my 6 year old with tears streaming down her face at the injustice of getting a hot dog instead of a pizza.
I grab the hot dogs, roll them in the foil and throw them in my purse.
"Lydia, get your drink"
I grab Collin and host him over my shoulders and bolt for the door. He is still screaming and now Lydia is yelling "WHY can't we finish eating!!!!!!!"
I leave the smoothie on the floor.
I make eye contact with no one as I flee to the parking lot.
So. What would that nice old lady have thought of me then? When my kids are tired and whinny and horrible. Would the thought have actually gone through her mind that I was a bad mother?
My mom told me once that she always assumed that kids who threw tempter tantrums in super markets must be abused at home. That was until she was around Lydia as a toddler. Lydia could not be taken ANYWHERE. She just loved to scream. (Kristi, you remember right? Trying to take her to run an errand? From 3 to 18 months she could go no where.)
Am I a bad mother? No way. I have young kids. Sometimes they are total brats. But the mass majority of the time they're wonderful. Lydia is the most amazing big sister and Collin is usually pure sunshine. Just not all the time. Do I lose my temper? Sure! But not a lot.
But do other people know that sometimes even well behaved, loved children have really bad days? Does the rest of the populous who are not in the midst of raising young kids know that a child who acts out doesn't always mean the parents are negligent?
Ha!! Of course not! I feel super judged just like every other young mother out there! Isn't it grand to be a mom???
But I like to remember one little fact. Opinions of people who have never had children, or who are old enough to be Grandparents don't really count. They either don't know or can't remember. Your best bet is to look for the mom in the crowd who will give you a sympathetic smile and a spare napkin.
So thanks to the old lady who told me I was a great mom. But you want to know when I'm the very best mom? When I take my very tired, smoothie sodden children home from a horrible lunch at Costso, lovingly give them a bath, hold them close and tell them how much I love them.