Not Good Mommy

I could write about how I handle (or not handle) kids tantrums or how I feel like a failure when my kids threw one in stores. Or how about describing the dirty looks from other parents as my child is rolling around on the floor because I told them that there weren’t any spirally shaped popsicles and it was my fault. Nope, I’m going to tell you how GOOD it felt to throw a tantrum. I’m ready to throw one now-I don’t negotiate with terrorists.  I have an 8-year old that is crying because I have grounded him from his XBox, Kindle, playing outside with friends, and dessert tonight. Harsh? Not a chance! But that’s for a different story.

I was with my ex and had three very young children in tote ranging from diapers to 5-year-old fierceness heading to the grocery store. In reality, that place is actually a timed gauntlet for parents to run when kids are with. I needed to get something for dinner. We (my now-ex and I) were tired of chicken nuggets, mac and cheese, and other kid-friendly foods. I wanted a vegetable that I didn’t have to refer to as a ‘tree’ so you can eat knowledge or carrots to help you find bunnies. A protein that required more than a bit of time in the oven to crisp the breading on a dinosaur shape. I always gave in and cooked foods that I knew the kids would eat and mealtimes were quiet but I was going to shake things up.

I chose thinly sliced steak for beef fajitas passing the hot dogs. Mistake 1. I grabbed tortillas, black beans, rice, and fajita seasoning passing the taco shells. Mistake 2. This is where my fierce 5-year-old launched the first attack of 20 questions food and what she and her siblings like to eat. I answered as non-descript as I could still having hope they will eat the dinner. I grabbed onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, and avocados. Mistake 3. I told them no to berries, watermelon, grapes, and oranges explaining that they have apples and grapes at the house that they needed to finish. This was the mistake 4 and the reason for my toddler to throw herself on the floor. She rolled, she turned, she kicked, and screamed like a banshee caught in a net! I was doing ok. I maintained my cool, picked her up off the floor, got down to her level and explained that this was unacceptable behavior. Good right? Wrong. As her infant sister and older sister watched my toddler grabbed the strawberries and defiantly threw them in the buggy, stuck her chin out and walked ahead of me. She strutted around proud that she just seemingly put mommy in her place. I called her name for her to watch me take the fruit out of the basket and placed them back on the shelf.

I know, you’re thinking, ‘They were just strawberries. Spend the few bucks and maintain peace.’ No, I refuse to have an acceptable level of being a toddlers toy that she can manipulate, disobey, and defy. This action sent her on a blind range of running through the produce section making sure to knock down the apples, onions, and whatever round fruit she could until I was able to grab her. This was round two rolling around on the floor. I looked at everyone staring at me, the overcome prompting employees to come help with the cleanup, and my other two watching in disbelief. It was a lot. I could’ve scooped her up and took all the kids to the car. I could have bargained with her, hell I could’ve spanked her (if it was me and I did that my mom would have opted for that) instead I threw myself on the floor. I was already a spectacle why not go all out? I rolled, I kicked, and I screamed. The only sound in the store was me and I have to admit that was a great stress reliever. When I was done I looked at my oldest who looked like she wished someone would kidnap her and my toddler was mortified.

I stood up with a feeling of inner peace and as I took the few steps I needed to reach her my focus was on the lesson. She took a step back as I kneeled down to her level. ‘[My child’s name] how do you feel?’ I asked. ‘Bad. Not good mommy’ ‘Bad because your mommy threw a fit?’ she nodded. ‘What you’re feeling is shame and embarrassment. It doesn’t feel good does it?’ she shook her head no. This is what mommy feels like when you do the same thing. It doesn’t get you anything you want. You need to learn to deal with someone telling you no. As you get older you’ll understand.’ After that day she never threw a tantrum and learned that I have my reasons for saying, ‘no’ or asking nicely may get you something else. Side note, those floors in grocery stores are filthy. I don’t recommend rolling around on them.

Foreign Storm

When people think of foreign they think of languages, countries, affairs, and literature. I could get a tutor for the languages and literature, guides when in other countries and C-Span for affairs but what if there isn’t anyone to lead?

My first real experience with something foreign occurred in my early 20’s. I was a mother of a vibrant and fearless toddler when I went through my first divorce. I had to get a job, babysitter, learn to change the oil in my car, to learning something as basic as replacing batteries in the smoke detector. Ok, maybe not that, but let’s just say I was the only adult in the house and needed to raise my daughter.

It was a southern stormy night when the tornado sirens started howling. I grabbed my daughter and headed for the closet. I remembered that the water heater closet was next to the one in the hallway that we were seeking protection in. I had to turn off the heater. I grabbed a tool, not knowing what it was meant for and went to work.

I had roughly 7 minutes from the sound of the warning to possible destruction. I handed my daughter the flashlight and that fearless little girl held the light for her mommy with sirens blaring. I turned a knob and I couldn’t feel any vibrations. ‘I think we did it!’ I told the little one who nodded with toddler certainty.

The sirens stopped. I walked outside to find a still sky that was green and black. There were birds up high flying around with gray clouds turning and passing overhead. I knew that it wasn’t good but didn’t want to frighten my little girl. I scooped her up and we quickly made a mattress fort in the closet fully equipped with snacks and crayons. I could hear the sound of the monster starting. Windows trying to hold the barrier, the protesting creaks of the walls and that’s when the lights went out.

We continued to color until there was silence again along with birds chirping. We stepped outside to see the dark sky passing and that our house withstood the tornado. The block behind us didn’t fare well and there was some extensive damage to the houses. Shortly after, I was approached by a utility worker explaining that I needed to turn off the gas that there were some pipes that were busted. I said, ‘I turned the water heater off.’ The puzzled look from the utility worker made me feel stupid. The worker checked and I had completed my task correctly.

Foreign can be found in a task that others don’t even bat an eye at. We made it through that storm but also the storming thoughts of how I couldn’t do things without a husband.

I took this prompt and ran with it. When I was a single mom, everyday actions and items were now foreign to me. I was really put to the test that night.

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