It’s one of the first cool Sunday mornings since spring, fall is on the way and I am so ready for it.
The day began with an amazingly peaceful meditation that was accompanied by a cool breeze flowing through my open windows, and the sounds of the morning birds singing. Meditation was followed up with an incredibly fulfilling Vinyasa Yoga sesh.
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I felt restored, grounded and strong. I was ready for anything the day had to throw at me, including grocery shopping with my 5-year-old daughter- L.
I was looking forward to it. It was fairly early in the morning, so the store isn’t usually too crowded around this time, and I was going to spend some quality 1:1 time with my youngest.
The drive to the store kept the vibe high as the 2 of us jammed to the Trolls soundtrack. We sang, we laughed and L talked about the toys that she knew were available at the grocery store and why she should have them. This was followed up with my standard response that this trip is strictly for groceries, not toys- it was definitely not the first time that we had this conversation.
As I was parking the car, L spotted the shopping cart that she just had to have. It was a green, plastic car cart. You know – the big, cumbersome cart that is nearly impossible to steer? – yeah, that one. She is getting entirely too big for this, but I was willing to let her make the decision of whether she was able to fit comfortably in this super hard to push shopping cart ,for what was most likely the last time.
As we approached the cart corral there were 2 shiny new “shopper in training” carts that caught her eye, so her focus shifted from the plastic car cart to deciding if she wanted the red or the black shopper in training cart.
This was a bittersweet moment because while I was thrilled that I did not have to try and maneuver that gigantic plastic car with shitty handling around the store (but hey! they are only small once, right?!) now, I had to be extra mindful of keeping her close by me and ensuring that neither one of us mow anyone (or each other) down.
Thankfully our shopping list was not large this time, and I was able to get away with one of those half carts, they are super easy to navigate and can easily be steered with one hand making it easier to grab onto the tall flag of the “shopper in training” cart when things start to go awry.
L received some smiles from fellow shoppers who seemed to get a kick out of the shopper in training, and I received some looks of sympathy as she veered her cart into my ankle for the 3rd time while I was trying to locate my favorite coffee creamer.
During our travels up and down the aisles, we passed some of the same people and families several times, so their faces became somewhat familiar.
One family in particular: a female adult and 2 small children- a boy, who if I had to guess were about 2 or 3 years old sitting in the cart, and a little girl walking alongside the cart, she was L’s size, so we will go with 5 for her. These kids were QUIET with a capital Q- from what I saw. Who knows, they could have just throat punched each-other in the aisle over for me. I can’t really tell you what may have triggered their adult, but she was clearly perturbed each time our paths crossed.
So there were L and me in the soda/seltzer aisle, I was trying to make important seltzer flavor decisions, while L was building a case on why she should get the “build-a-straw” that is on display. The straw was pretty inexpensive and looked pretty cool, so in her cart it went. I know, I know- I said the trip was for groceries only, but this straw turned out to be really cool, and it sparks creativity, it’s a win all around and I highly recommend the straw (if you don’t see it in your local grocery store, you can get the here also)
The moment the straw hit the little cart, that’s when it happened, all of the sudden, right next to me, the perturbed (and possibly foaming at the mouth) female adult figure with the 2 small children is now venomously screaming at the the little girl and says “look that girl is being good, why can’t you behave like her?” she was pissed, and didn’t care who knew.
So now they are right next to us in the aisle, and I look over as the adult figure is carrying on and ranting about something else that I wasn’t even listening to, because I am sad for his little girl whose beautiful blue eyes are turning red with tears. The little girl makes eye contact with me and then my daughter as we both greet her with small, sympathetic, warm smiles.
My heart ached for this kid. Truth is, my heart ached for her mom too.
I am in no way shaming this mom. I have been this mom- frustrated, overwhelmed, exhausted, saying shit that I don’t mean, not having as much regard for my kids feelings as I probably should have, having meltdowns right along with them in grocery stores, theme parks, parking lots, well- you see what I am getting at.
I felt for her. I wanted to stop and give her a hug and remind her to take some deep breaths and soak up these moments with our little ones.
In hindsight, I should have. Maybe a hug from a stranger would have made her day better- or perhaps it would have enraged her further. I guess I will never know.
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What I do know, is that shaming our children in public, at home, or anywhere is not beneficial to you or the child and it most certainly is not an effective method of discipline.
Comparing them to another child, especially one that you don’t even know is pretty soul crushing, especially when your choice of example child was just ramming her little cart into her mother’s cart in the previous aisle, while simultaneously laughing an evil little cackle.
Let’s try a little shift in perspective here, to understand how this makes a child feel:
Imagine for a moment that your spouse, your parents, your boss, or maybe even your child, loudly and angrily exclaims in a room or aisle full of people “That person is awesome! Why can’t you be more like awesome like that person?” or “look how well that person is doing, it’s too bad you aren’t doing as well in life” or what if they just started ranting and yelling at you in front of your peers, in public! Those things sting, they are mean spirited, and they certainly don’t make me want to be a better person for YOU, or trust you. These types of statements and actions do nothing more than diminish spirits and create negative vibes.
I thought about this interaction for the entire ride home.
I was filled with sadness for the overwhelmed adult figure, and my heart was aching for the little ones who were on the receiving end of the verbal lashings that certainly were not teaching them anything more than how to carry on loudly, with little substance.
I was reminded of my past self- my short-tempered self who often silenced them when I should have been listening.
The version of myself who projected my anxieties and didn’t often have much of a filter. This did not make me a bad mom, just as it does not make anyone else a bad mom. I didn’t love my kids any less than a more patient mom does. I was just a mom who didn’t know better. I didn’t have the emotional toolbelt to handle myself in a very mindful manner.
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It is in yours and your child’s best interest to develop a tool belt full of tools that can help to improve patience, remain present, and cultivate a more positive and peaceful presence.
Life is chaotic and stressful.
So what can you do when you feel like you may lose your shit and say hurtful things?
Remember to breathe and teach your children to remember to breathe. Practice pausing, taking a deep breath or 2, and then responding rather than reacting. This WILL take practice. Keep practicing.
Does the thought of meditating make you even more anxious? Check out my post on Meditation practices that you don’t have to sit still for to get some ideas on how to reamin grounded and present without engaging in a formal meditation practice.
4,5,6 breathing is an excellent tool for everyday stressors. To practice 4,5,6 breathing, you simply inhale to the count of 4, hold your breath to the count of 5, and exhale slowly to the count of 6.
This practice will help calm your nervous system while also giving you the pause that you need to formulate an articulate response rather than a brash response.
Cultivate gratitude- Gratitude that your children are healthy.
Gratitude that your children enjoy our presence
Gratitude that you are able to take your children to have playdates.
Gratitude that you get to be their parent, grandparent, etc.
Gratitude that YOU were chosen and have the opportunity to fill their little lives with knowledge, joy and inspiration. Are you ready start growing into a more Positive, Patient, Peaceful and Present version of yourself? SIgn up for this FREE challenge and get the tools and resources that you need to start your journey TODAY!
Be the person that they look up to and want to be around. Be the person that they will come to when they are in trouble rather than fearing your response. Be present and listen when they need that. Be their rock as they try and navigate this wild world.
Let’s do better for our children. Let’s guide them and enjoy our time with them while we have it. Let’s avoid breaking their spirits and sending more broken adults into the world. Instead, send them on their way, armed with an emotional toolbelt that can help them to get through anything that life throws their way.