The Dad and I had a rare lunch date today- we went to the mall for lunch, then did the big loop around window shopping. And, you can't leave the mall without spending $69.01 at Target on diapers, formula, and baby food exclusively. Jeez lil' dude! get a job already.
In the center of the mall is the food court- it's completely wide open with very high ceilings. Noise carries in there terribly, making everything echo. Even a quiet, private conversations ping-pings off the walls and ceiling. Imagine for a moment a wailing toddler, or screaming child. Loud.
In this area is the mall center- you know, the information desk where you can purchase gift cards, page security, find lost things. It's where you can rent those giant double-stroller things for toddlers/lazy big-kids. The ones at this mall are shaped like a tree, with the seats looking like knot holes in the trunk, and the leaves and branches part (crown? is this called the crown?) are where the handles to push are located. Ugh, they are huge contraptions, hurt when your heels get rammed with them, and are just obnoxious. The carts sit clustered together, tethered by chains until you pay someone at the mall center desk to rent one, and you get the key to remove it from its tethered family.
Well today, as the Dad and I were headed across the vast canvas known as the food court/mall center heading to our fave sports store, we saw a lady walking towards us, yet speaking to someone behind her. As we got closer, we realized the lady had left her two blond boys, both very young, in a tree-cart about 200 feet away from the desk where she needed to buy the magical key.
The boys were both screaming . . . although, they didn't seem to be crying. Just loud screaming.
In turn, the boys' mother was screaming at them to sit down, be quiet, wait there, don't move, get in the damn tree, etc. I kept looking between the boys and the mom, as she reached the desk, the third person in line. She kept looking over her shoulder, repeating her orders. Sit. Down. Tree.
Between the desk and the stroller area are two large pillars that presumably hold the roof up. There also was a fake tree or two (not to be confused with the tree-stroller-carts) and some garbage cans. A lot of elements in the mom's line of sight, anyways. My own heart raced a bit for her. The boys seemed to be about 18 months and 3, maybe 2 and 4. I am still bad at guesstimating ages of kids.
I said to the Dad, "I cannot believe she is leaving those kids sit there alone as she walks away from them," over and over again as we walked past them. The mall was pretty busy for a Tuesday afternoon, and we were in the busiest, most congested loudest part of all. All chaos and cluster and trees. "What the Hell is she thinking?"
The Dad said, "I hope they have a meltdown."
And I said, "I hope someone steals one of them to teach her a lesson."
What? Excuse me, I said what again? That I wished an innocent little blond boy was kidnapped from the mall during the first week of summer? What? Why. Why? I never meant it. How could I? I would never ever wish in a million years for anything of that nature to happen to anyone, friend or foe, deserved or not. I never meant it. So why did I say it?
Because I used snap judgement and used my hyper-critical skills to analyze the situation and deem the mother unfit and wrong and stupid and terrible for walking 200 feet from her children, her babies, to grab the key to their fun afternoon.
I've been thinking about this since it happened about 4 hours ago. How I've only been a mother myself just 6 months, yet I appear to think and act like I know everything and do only what is right and acceptable all the time. How dare I? I've already built my little mom castle with the moat and the dragon and the guards in the towers protecting me and my child from the other mom castles. Which doctors to choose, which health facilities to visit, bottles, pacifiers, baby monitors, carseats, burp rags, brand of sleepers . . . when to feed, how to soothe, how to choose a name . . . the list goes on and on. If you are a mom, you know what I mean. You can't help it, it arrives with your new little like the ID bracelets and knit hospital hat. You've already created preconceived notions before you leave the labor and delivery floor. It's a rite of passage. I remember one instance in particular, last fall, before the lil' dude showed up. The Dad and I were at Target.
"Sweet Jesus, formula is expensive," he said, looking at the shelf where I pointed to the $25.78 label.
"Yes, it is. Oh well. It's not like we can whip up a puree for her using some things from the pantry. She needs what she needs." I said.
"Is there any reason we couldn't use the generic formula? Look at the price difference," he said, pointing to the $11.89 label.
"ARE YOU #@^&*$! KIDDING ME? DID YOU JUST SAY GENERIC???" and I proceeded to have a pregnant meltdown over the suggestion right there in Target, this time a meltdown not fueled by sobriety or heartburn or other normal pregnancy maladies. *
See? I had already formed the opinion that I knew what was best, and eat shit if you think you can tell me otherwise. And I wasn't even a mother yet!
The point is, being a mother is tough job. Being a parent is. It's unlike anything anyone has done before. There is no manual. There is no wrong way or right way, like there is to do calculus or change the oil in your car. Everyone does it the ways in which they learn is best for them- and their families. And I ought to put out a call to uniting of parents everywhere, by supporting them and recognizing their efforts for the job is so difficult. Ban together, not tear apart. Employ the "if it works for you, then shoot" reckoning.
*And, Internet friends, eating shit tastes like, well, you know. The only formula the lil' dude has ever consumed is the Target generic brand for $11.89. It won't be the last "You were right and I don't know everything" I mutter in this lifetime, stamped guarantee!