Grocery Scene: Shrieking Toddler, Panicking Mom

stern woman

My son starts shrieking from his seat in the grocery cart.  “Shh,” I tell him.  He is suddenly calm.  HA!  Not really.  He is not calm.  He keeps shrieking.  Maybe if my tone is more intense, he will know I mean it.  He must be thinking the same thing about his tone, because the harder I try to hush him, the louder he gets.  My next clever move is to squeeze his hand.  I have to come up with something that works, because all the good moms with quiet children must now be thinking I am a really bad mom.  I squeeze his hand harder, and he shrieks louder.  Finally, his stubbornness gives in to frustration and/or pain, and he bursts into tears.

I feel relief, because crying is something I can deal with, and it is quieter.  I also feel guilt, because I just tried to solve my problem by hurting my son.  And, I feel anxiety because this has happened before and will probably happen again, and I don’t know any other solution.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was acting in desperation out of fear.  I didn’t even know then that fear could be a motivation.  I was especially afraid of what others would think of me.  After a while, I began to notice that situations like this escalated much worse in public than at home because of the pressure I put on myself to perform properly in front of other people.

So, now that I had identified my fear of judgement, I could work on getting over it.  I concentrated on caring less about the imaginary “good mom” in another aisle.  I worked on swallowing my pride and accepting the embarrassment of a screaming child, rather than making him cry to be more socially acceptable.  I still tried to get him to stop, but I became a little less panicked and a little more calm.  This took a long time and a lot of practice, and I still am not totally over acting this way.

This scenario was just my first step in recognizing that a mother has to manage her own reaction, both mentally and physically, in order to improve a situation.  Through the years, I have gotten better at understanding why he might be screaming in the first place, but that is a topic yet to come.



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2 responses to “Grocery Scene: Shrieking Toddler, Panicking Mom

  1. Your words are so true. I look forward to hearing about your learning journey through parenting. NIce to have found you!

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