It’s a familiar scene. Your toddler throws themselves to the ground and screams about (insert silly reason here) and your face turns red as you try to move along as quickly as possible.
When it happens at home it’s annoying, tiring and stressful. When it happens in public it’s all of those things with an added sprinkling of embarrassing. It’s not helped when people stare, wide-eyed and judgemental as if they’ve never seen a child crying before.
Then you blame yourself, because you must be a terrible mother, right?
You’ve encouraged bad behaviour, allowed them to be self-indulgent, not responded quickly enough, or dared to take them to a supermarket which is too boring for the growing brains to cope with. How dare you.
I remember being utterly overwhelmed by my first child’s tantrums. The crying made my brain freeze up, I stopped taking her out for lunch in public because I could stand the stares and I wondered what I was doing wrong to make her so unhappy.
It didn’t help that her behaviour was 500 per cent worse around me.
Yes, she did cry around other people. However it happened with far more regularity with me, and her tantrums were just bigger. Louder. More dramatic. Longer lasting.
Why? I would ask myself. Why is she like this so much around me. What have I done.
The answer is that I had done absolutely nothing.
A few years and another child later, I’m more frazzled but a little bit wiser.
I know this isn’t related to me or anything I do wrong. It’s because toddlers cry.
They cry because they’re tired.
They cry because they want something.
They cry because you said no.
They cry because they just don’t know what else to do.
Now that I’ve accepted this is just what kids do, I get far less embarrassed about it. I’m not saying that I’m not aware of it, but to be honest I can’t be arsed to worry about what other people think about me.
Kids crying at a fancy restaurant at night? Obviously a problem.
Kids crying at a supermarket in the middle of the day? That’s life guys, get over it. And be thankful you’re not taking them home with you.
I frequently end up slinging my youngest over my shoulder while she’s screaming her head off and just carrying on with my business.
However I have to say, taking a trip to the supermarket without kids is like taking a mini-break. I walk around at my own pace and then eat a pack of buttons in the car before heading home. Bliss.
So next time you’re picking up dinner and your wailing toddler flings herself to the floor, the most important thing to do is to not blame yourself.
It’s not you mama.