I took my 15-month-old daughter to the supermarket this morning. We go to the supermarket together all the time. Usually, she has a ball; she loves riding in the trolley, looking at all the colourful produce, smiling at other people while giving them her best impression of a royal wave, and just being her delicious bubbly self.
This morning, however, she was Not Happy.
We left home under optimal conditions. My little girl was fed, well rested and wearing a clean nappy.
Operation Supermarket Shopping seemed promising.
However, it wasn't going as planned. Instead of sitting in the trolley, my little one wanted to walk. Like, really wanted to walk. She kicked around, her eyes demanding I put her down NOW.
Once on the ground she toddled along, flashing me her cheeky smile. While conditions were no longer optimal, I remained hopeful.
But somewhere around the pasta sauce aisle, things went off course. No longer content with just walking, she now wanted to collect All The Things.
I didn't think this was a good idea. She, funnily enough, disagreed.
The following scene was not pretty. She started collecting All The Things while I frantically started putting them all back. She was not impressed with my desire to put them all back. She let me know this by employing her Flapping Arms and Legs Technique.
I then tried to pick her up. She moved on to the Back Arching Manoeuvre.
Then, she let me know she was Not Happy by using her high-pitched squeal.
Operation Supermarket Shopping was hitting a critical point.
Suddenly, the shoppers who had been earlier smiling at her began glaring at me.
And then it dawned on me; I was That Mum.
That Mum who has a screaming toddler in a supermarket.
That Mum whose child is 'misbehaving'.
That Mum who other mums walk past and give sympathetic eyes to, ("we've all been there," one of them kindly said), while all other shoppers look at in disdain as though you are highly toxic.
The truth is, we've all been That Mum. And it's not fun.
This morning, it didn't take me long to decide to Abort Operation Supermarket Shopping (I pretty much had everything I needed anyway). But now I faced another hurdle: evacuation.
When you're That Mum you have a few options. You can take the Superhero Heroine Approach, toss your hair over your shoulder, collect your squealing toddler and bolt for the door.
Or you can start profusely apologising to all those around you.
You can try to reason with your toddler (but don't they say you shouldn't negotiate with terrorists?).
Or you can smile, shrug your 'what can you do?' shrug, comfort your toddler as best you can while trying to ensure there's no bystander collateral damage, and just accept the fact that you're That Mum today.
It also helps to remind yourself that, while this episode is unpleasant for you and your little one (and everyone else in the pasta sauce aisle), your time as That Mum will end.
I tried my best to help my little one through her sad feelings about All The Things. I made it to the cash register as quickly as possible, and paid for my few meager items.
By then, my toddler was thankfully happy again.
Just as quickly as it had started, my time as That Mum passed. By the time we left the supermarket, my little girl was back to her usual bubbly self.
Unfortunately, while my episode as That Mum was over, the baton had been passed to another mum.
This mum had a toddler who was resisting being strapped into the car (he was using the old Back Arching/Flapping Arms and Legs Technique, while simultaneously attempting the trusty Trying to Escape routine. To be honest, he looked well practiced in the Art of Car Seat Refusal).
The mum smiled as she saw me, giving me a 'what can you do?' shrug. I smiled back.
And as I drove away I realised that's the thing about being That Mum. Everyone gets a turn.
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