the one about when you had young children

Do you know the God's honest worst store to visit with young children?

Hobby Lobby.

I almost would rather go to Goodwill on a Saturday and tell my children to lick anything in the store than take them to Hobby Lobby.

Something about that store and all its thousands of glass trinkets and decorative fruit and spools of ribbon makes my wonderful daughters turn into those crazy shoppers on Supermarket Sweep (Who remembers that show? Always go for the gold-wrapped ham. Always.). They want to run and touch and grab and show and squeal with glee.

What makes it even better is the shopping carts are ridiculously small. There's no way I can fit both of my kids comfortably in the cart and have room for any items.

But what's a mama to do when I need some burlap or bead supplies or a cute holiday decoration?

Well, if my husband isn't home, I bite the bullet and take them with me. I talk to them in the car about what they are allowed to do and not do, and what my expectations are, and that the rubber grapes are not for eating. I take a deep breath and we enter the "Land of No."

It doesn't take long for me to start breaking into a sweat. I scold myself for even trying.

And then, like here recently, I will look up from returning 17 decorative knobs to their respective bins, and see a little old lady staring at me. Well, staring through me. The look of horror on her face, as if wild zoo animals had just escaped and taken refuge inside this very store.

Call me sensitive. Call me defensive. But I'm pretty sure she was judging me.

I could just hear it already.

"Back in my day, my children listened to me and didn't touch things they weren't supposed to touch."

Fast forward to our checkout experience. Hobby Lobby is hard enough to get through with children, but then they stack their checkout lanes with cheap toys and junk candy and those stuffed animals with the HUGE eyes that are so cute, yet ridiculously creepy. My girls typically have to hug each one and ask me no less than 208 times for some Pez.

When I finally get them to the cashier, I have to set Charlotte up on the counter so I can keep her from running away while I pay. Of course, she grabs a package of M&M's and tries to open them. When I don't let her, she screams and does a Lebron-worthy flop, going limp in my arms just as I am opening my wallet.

Cue four little old ladies to pull in line behind me. The first one in line just gawks at me. At me? I am not the one flopping around! The least she can do is give my child a few looks. But of course, it's my fault, even though I was trying to do the right thing by, you know, not giving into my child's every desire and pumping her full of 240 calories of pure sugar at 9:30 a.m.

Her straight-lined mouth and palpable annoyance with the spectacle she was seeing was really no match for the cashier's, um, "sunny" disposition.

Because mustering even a half-hearted smile or chuckle or even an insincere "I remember those days…" kind of comment would be too much compassion for that hour of the day.

I am finally able to pay for and load up our purchases into the tiny cart, push it to the parking lot with one hand while carrying Charlotte out around the waist like a squealing piglet…Noelle trailing behind.

"It happens."

"You're doing a good job, Honey."

"Raising little ones can be so hard sometimes!"

I would have loved to hear any of those over the deafening silence and critical stares.

There tends to be this disconnect between the people who currently have young children and those who had young children many moons ago. They simply have forgotten (figuratively and literally) what it was like to have to manage public outings. I realize there weren't as many places to shop and eat and that moms just didn't haul their kids out and about like they do now, but seriously? A little empathy goes a long way.

Kids might be different "these days," but I can guarantee you that they have been ornery and disobedient since the beginning of time. They have yelled when they weren't supposed to yell and they have run when they weren't supposed to run. They have broken things and touched things and cried over candy they couldn't have.

Let's not place our early parenthood moments so far behind us that we forget to be encouraging and supportive to the young mamas around us. Let's avoid the judgmental faces and snippy comments.

Let's remember that in this free country, a mother can take her brood of youngsters along with her wherever she would like-- stores, restaurants, salons, the doctor's office, church, etc. Granted, some places are better for children than others, but if you see a mother out in public with her children, alone, and you think that she would have been better off not to bring her kids with her, BELIEVE ME, she agrees with you. If she had another option, she would probably be using it. However, sometimes spouses aren't around. Sometimes friends and family can't help. Sometimes babysitters aren't available or are too expensive. Sometimes mothers without help are just that…mothers without help.

And regardless of the circumstances, how can children really learn how to behave and act in public if they aren't given the chance to, you know, be in public? They have to learn that sitting through a church service is important, and that movies don't last 15 minutes, and there is a proper way to behave in a restaurant, and you can't pick up and hold each and every little thing at Hobby Lobby.

Kids have to learn. Moms have to teach. Fellow moms need to encourage.

I make it a point, when I see another mama struggling with a child in public, to share a smile or short story about how "my kids have done the same thing," even if they haven't.

It's the compassionate nice supportive right thing to do.

2 comments

  1. Amen. And... side note. Babysitters cost SO SO MUCH more jow than they did even when I was babysitting. If you wanted to have a few hours to shop without kiddos add 50 bucks to your bill cause that's how much the sitter would be. Who's got cash for that? It's a different ball game.

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  2. Haha! Oh, Hobby Lobby. My daughter, then 2 at the time, went bananas in the picture frame aisle. She wouldn't listen, and her big brother wouldn't, either, at the do. Not. Touch. Rule. So after maybe 5 minutes in the store I picked her up and carried her screaming little self on out with brother hanging onto my jacket. We were a sight.

    Pretty sure that was the last time we braved that store.

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