We've all done it. We've all seen the mother/father with the screaming child and said a little prayer.
A little prayer for that poor parent trying to handle the situation.
A little prayer thanking God that for that moment that isn't us.
Maybe we judge, maybe we empathize - but we've all had an opinion. We pretend we don't see, pretend we don't see - we walk by without making eye contact.
I know I've done it. I've been the mother with the well behaved toddler who loved shopping. The one who would sympathize with those other mothers all the while saying "thank God that's not me".
Then it happened.
Last month while shopping after work - complete toddler meltdown. There was screaming - there were tears. My perfect angel had turned into an uncontrollable little person.
I tried to calm him down.
I tried to bribe him.
I even tried a mini time out.
FAIL, FAIL, FAIL!
The screaming, crying and kicking only got worse as we got in the car. As soon as we approached the front door he threw himself on the floor and screamed louder - those shrieking, piercing screams!
I broke. I closed the door and try to compose myself. The screaming baby on the other side of the door.
He began knocking and immediately my tears started flowing.
What had I done? What kind of mother closes the door on her child. I picked him up and held him tight even though he fought me every second.
I felt so much shame - staring into the eyes of my son. I am supposed to be his rock - the one that protects him, the one that consoles him. Not the one that shuts him out.
Eventually he calmed down, went to bed, but as I found out toddlers are not so quick to forgive and forget. I received the silent treatment - no hugs or kisses for a couple of days and then life resumed like normal - even though the emotions of that night will be with me for a long time to come.
Hopefully I will be less quick to judge. Less quick to say those little prayers in the grocery store. Less quick to let my emotions get the better of me.