So remember those real posts a while back? Well here’s another one for you…
We’re doing Operation Christmas Joy at our church for children in Panama. Basically, you fill a shoebox size container up with toys and clothes for these sweet babies to open at Christmas. This is our second year to participate in this, but Hudson didn’t really get it last year. So, being the great mama that I am (insert eye roll), I thought it would be great if Hudson helped me pick out the toys for these kids, and maybe he could learn a lesson about giving to others.
When Hudson got up that morning, I really talked it up. I told him about the children. A little about where they lived, and what we were going to do for them. I asked him to help me pick out the toys, and if he’d be really patient with me he could pick out a little toy for himself.
Ok. So here we go.
Oh, wait. You should know that we live about 30 minutes away from “big shopping”, so it’s sort of a big deal to go to “town”. I mean there are lists that have to be made because you can’t just run back to the store and get it if you forget something. Also, you need to make sure you have all your toddler/baby/mama essentials because you can’t just run by the house and grab a change of clothes should an emergency pop up. So I’m usually pretty exhausted before we ever leave the house.
Ok here we…
Oh, wait. You should also know that, again being the great mama that I am, I decided that it would be good for me to get our groceries for the next two weeks on this same shopping-for-the-Panama-kids trip, too. I mean, it’s 30 minutes away.
Ok so here we go.
Hudson did great picking out the toys for the “tids” (his Ks are still Ts). He’d pick one up and say, “fink they would yike dis one?”. I was smiling that proud Mama smile. What a selfless little toddler I was raising!
He picked out a little Jake and the Neverland Pirates bath squirter for himself, and we headed for the groceries.
And then he yawned.
But he continued to play with his new toy. Give my hands sweet pats on the shopping cart bar. And ask for a hug or two.
And then he wanted my hair.
Ok so I know he’s getting tired. We’ve been here a while. I’m tired. I finish up. Start heading to the checkouts. Then I remember that I forgot something. I could have just gotten it next time, but the 30 minute commute…
So I grab what I forgot and I’m on my way back to the checkouts. Hudson’s requests for my hair are becoming more like demands. I tell him to just hang on we’re almost through.
And then the real reaches up and pulls the pocket of my shirt.
Really, he grabbed my shirt. And pulled it while bursting into this mad-toddler-man fit that I’d never seen. Or at least never seen this close up. I pulled my cart over in the one of the aisles and gave him the best threatening, whisper-yelling voice I had in me. I told him that he could be patient with me while I paid for our things or I’d put his toy back. You know, being the great Mama that I am.
He said he was sorry. “I not do dat adin mama”. I thought again, what sweet little toddler I have.
I pulled the cart back out and aimed it for the check out line.
He. Pulled. My. Shirt. Again.
I took his toy out of his hand and laid it on one of racks we were passing by. (Ok so I never do this because I know someone has to come by and put that back where it goes, but I couldn’t risk another trip to the toy aisle at this point.) I just kept walking. He completely fell apart. I’m talking brokenhearted sobs. He started yelling, “mama don’t let somebody det my toy!” I continued on to the checkout, pushing my cart to the beat of my toddler’s cry.
I was mortified. This woman pulled her cart in behind us and smiled sweetly at me as I unloaded my cart at warp speed. All the while, the real is screaming from his seat in the cart. I’m sure I looked a hot mess. I felt the need to explain to her and my cashier why he was crying. Because seriously, he sounded like I’d hurt him. They, mamas themselves, said very Southernly, “it’s ok, honey. You’re doin’ the right thing. It’s a hard lesson for them to learn. But it’s even harder on you.” Other mamas came up and tried to distract Hudson while I finished up the transaction. And for a moment, we were surrounded by Mamas and Grandmamas who had been there, in the real, and lived to tell about it. They swooped in when they saw a mama in trouble.
And I teared up. For. Real. In the Walmart checkout line.
This was my first experience in public, with a crazy toddler throw down. I thought I was failing it. Motherhood. I just knew I had to be the worst mama ever.
But these sweet mamas with their I-know-I’ve-been-there smiles. These women who searched their bag of tricks for the one that always worked for them when they were living the real. These extraordinary, ordinary women. These super heroes. They saved me.
I thanked them. And they waved it off. Pass it on someday, they said.
I walked out of there with a quiet, but still crying toddler. I unloaded him and the groceries into my car. And while I was buckling him in, he stopped crying and hugged me.
When we got home, he had completely forgotten about the Jake toy, and after helping me pack the Panama boxes he wrote the “yiddle boys and dirls” a note.
Oh this boy. We make a pretty good team. He put me back in my place that day. I know I’m not the great mama that I thought I was that morning. And I know it isn’t over. I know there are more tantrums to be thrown and fits to be pitched. I know that there will probably be one along the way that ends with a teenager hating me for not letting him go to a party or stay out past 8:30pm, ok 10:30pm.
But I also know that I’m not the worst mama ever.