Nothing makes you feels like you’re wearing a badge that says “bad parent” quite like watching the child you’ve raised have a meltdown in public. If you have kids you know the feeling. No matter how hard you try, when the usual parenting tricks aren’t working, it’s hard to keep calm and carry on — especially when everyone’s eyes are on you.
No matter how tough moms can be, even the best of them can feel totally helpless in the face of their child throwing a public tantrum.
Here’s how one stranger turned a near mommy-meltdown into a moment she’d never forget.
Tears at TJ Maxx Left This Mommy Helpless: She Had Nowhere to Hide
When Sherry White — a successful Mommy blogger who runs The Messy Christian — took her little girl on a TJ Maxx run, this errand was anything but easy-peasy. In fact, it was the drama mama-nightmares are made of!
“My daughter just had the worst tantrum of her life. And of course it was at home so I could have home court advantage. Just kidding it was at TJ Maxx.”
“Home court advantage” is a great way of putting it. It’s much easier to use positive affirmations and “keep calm” with a frustrated toddler, when we’re in the comfort of our own home. Sometimes when our little ones are having a bad day? Even a place like TJ Maxx can feel overstimulating.
The only problem is, we don’t always know when the storm is coming and we don’t have time to “batten down the hatches.”
When she took her little girl out for some mother-daughter-bonding time, this mommy blogger had no idea lightning and thunder were about to strike — in the middle of the discount cookware section!
Trying to Control the Situation — “All My Tricks Failed”
No matter what they teach you in daycare — even LAMAZE can’t prepare you for this!
Even though Sherry had done everything she could to raise her daughter into a respectful young lady, there was no getting around it. Mommy’s little angel was throwing a full on tantrum and could not be reasoned with.
Sherry admits “every parenting trick” fell to the wayside. “My heart was beating fast and I was trying not to lose my cool.”
On this particular day, in this particular moment her little girl was simply “irrational.” Unfortunately for the strangers pushing their shopping carts by, with their noses turned up…that’s the only snapshot of Sherry’s parenting they were seeing. Needless to say for a mom who’s trying her best? The judgement was tearing her apart.
After trying her best to be patient and calm her daughter down, Sherry was at her wits end. She did the only thing she could think of and tried to move her daughter to a quieter location, away from shaming eyes — and bleeding ears. She had to wait for the storm to pass.
“I scooped her off to the bathroom trying to recoup and I realized I was going to have to just hold on and wait for it to pass because she was so far gone.”
Even then no matter how hard she tried to “control the situation,” Sherry couldn’t overcome the shame she felt as strangers passed by her, without saying a word.
“Person after person walked passed us and I could feel the judgement like the sun burning a hole in me. I just knew they had to be thinking what kind of brat have I raised because I was thinking the same thing. She was being defiant and angry and it was not pretty.”
But as it turns out…one person’s words of affirmation can make up for 100 judgemental glances. Which is exactly what happened, when one older woman put a reassuring hand on Sherry’s shoulder. Her simple words changed everything.
A Reminder We’re “Doing Great” Never Gets Old
In her viral post, the beloved mommy blogger shared her story and the one older woman who felt like her guardian angel.
“This lady a little older than myself walked by and smiled and she came over and squeezed my arm and whispered it’s okay, you’re doing great.”
To even Sherry’s own surprise, these unexpected words of kindness brought tears to this tough mommy’s eyes — literally. “I quickly turned away from her before she could see the tears forming in my eyes and falling down my face.”
Sherry reflected the shame she was overwhelmed with in that moment. In her own, honest words, “felt like a total mommy failure with an out of control kid.” Her struggle was more than relatable. Looking back it was easy for her to find the humor in the situation, “there we were both crying,” Sherry said of her daughter and her — for different reasons of course.
The fact of the matter is, Sherry’s no different than most moms. Trying to juggle cooking, cleaning, pick up, drop off there’s a reason why motherhood feels like having to do it all. Don’t get me wrong, dads help out too. Dads are always there to answer the important questions like: “Where’s mom?” — kidding! Kind of.
All’s Well That Ends Well
Eventually the stormed passed — as it always does. Sherry’s little girl calmed down and they were able to finish up their shopping at TJ Maxx and head home.
Sherry snapped a pic of her and her sleeping daughter in her car seat, poking fun of the stressful situation. “I guess she was sleepy ” she captioned the shot.
Even though Sherry looked for her guardian angel around the store she was nowhere to be seen. “I was hoping I’d see that lady and say thank you, but she was gone.”
Still, Sherry reminded her followers how much the seemingly small gesture meant. “I know a lot of times we don’t know what to say to people when we see them going through a moment like this, but from now on take a cue from that lady at TJ Maxx.”
Even the Strongest of Us Have Moments of Weakness
Even though Sherry writes a mommy blog that is all about embracing the imperfections of parenting and finding the beauty in the challenge — it didn’t stop her from having her own moment of weakness.
That’s why sharing stories like Sherry’s are so powerful. It’s an important reminder of the age old joke that even a therapist needs a therapist! Even the toughest mommy needs some words of encouragement!
“A smile and an encouraging word goes a long way.”
Even though averting your gaze may sometimes feel like the most respectful solution — after all, you weren’t judging her, right? — Sherry’s story is a reminder that sometimes there’s power in going old school Good Samaritan!
Sure, we can walk a mile in someone’s shoes — but the most important thing isn’t to forget the blisters we got along the way, once they’ve healed. Being neutral is great, but being positive is even better.