Running errands with kids — it is not anything new or special or unique to any parent, but it can be painful. People often try to give me tips and pointers on how to make it “FUN!”, as if my college degree in Early Childhood Development and six years of parenting experience are invalid.

On Friday, I braved Target with my 19 month old daughter and was surprised to find that she was fairly well behaved. She learned two new words while shopping at the store: “No!” and “Mine!” in direct reference to a ball that I refused to purchase. Luckily, I was spared a complete cerebral meltdown as the prospect of hiding in the clothing racks outweighed her interest in all things blinky-blinky in the toy section. Her awesome behavior gave me something… something very dangerous: FALSE CONFIDENCE.

On Monday, I stopped by Walmart. What fun this will be! The baby will ride in the cart, she will be happy, she will… wriggle out of the seatbelt and leap like a flying squirrel into my arms. Knowing that she would not stay in the cart, I tried to keep her busy {you know, use all those tips the other moms & grandmas have thrown at me over the years} and this is how the first ten minutes went down:

ultimate toddler temper tantrum

First, Lizzie pulled two wall clocks off the shelf to admire and then immediately threw them back haphazardly before darting to the window blinds where she reenacted a scene from Star Wars, in which she had an epic light saber battle with evil. As I put all five blinds, err light sabers, back on the shelf she spotted the fake pumpkins and began tossing them like baseballs into the aisle. A man stopped to watch, chuckled, commented that he was retired Navy with five kids of his own, and blessed me. Like as in, “Bless you, honey. My kids are grown and I wouldn’t want to go back to this stage.” {end of quote}

After a detour to the toy section where she tried all the hula hoops, we went on a mission to find a thermos. When I shop, my brain goes into panic mode because I know it’s only a matter of time before toddler curiosity will get the best of her – “Need a thermos. Need a thermos. Where are the thermoses? Is this all they have? Good enough. Cart.” Meanwhile, my little one is TOUCHING.EVERYTHING. In this case, she tossed a few lunch boxes on the ground {harmless} but while I put them back she thought she would see if cookie jars could fly. I apologized to the store clerk who reassured me that it happens and that he could relate: he has a two year old.

Diapers. The girl knows that word so she happily held my hand through the store. It was after this that the fun ended and I could feel my hair turning gray. Grasping at anything she could get her hands on, she was determined to launch anything and everything. Sippy cups, canned goods, anything on an end cap was in harm’s way. I had to finish our shopping carrying Lizzie in a fireman hold as she screamed and writhed in my arms. And everyone was staring at me. Oh Lord, I have become that Mom at Walmart.

But haven’t we all been that Mom at Walmart? If we’re keeping it real, folks… haven’t we all been in a situation like this? I’d like to see a few more thumbs ups when I’m clearly in the midst of a parenting battle of wills. How about some “atta girls!” when I’m telling her no? A high five here and there when I scold her for breaking and throwing stuff?

Y’all, we are all in this mess together. This beautiful, tiring, wouldn’t change it for the world mess we call the “new normal”. This is motherhood. We need to support and encourage each other because running errands with kids will never be easy.