When I took Charlotte outside and tried to put her in the car seat, she started screaming and arching her back. It was one of the first warm days and the car was pretty hot, so I turned on the air conditioner while the babysitter managed to get her strapped in, but she was still screaming. By the time we got into the Costco parking lot, she had calmed down and was just fussing a little. I got her out and walked over to the carts. That’s when the screaming started again. She didn’t want to go in the cart. She didn’t want to be held. She didn’t want me to put her down. As we walked into the store, she wiggled in my arms shrieking so loud I think everyone in the warehouse could hear her. I stopped and calmed her down. When she stopped thrashing around, I strapped her into the cart but continued to scream, all the way through the store. To make matters worse, the wipes, which used to be stacked right near the registers, were now all the way in the back of the store, so we had to walk all around trying to find them. So much for my quick trip!
By this time, I was upset and sweating. Charlotte’s face was a deep red and there were tears and snot flying everywhere. I held her close and patted her back while begging her to calm down. As I turned around, I saw a woman staring at us from across the aisle. I quickly turned back around and kept bouncing and patting while talking in a softer voice. Suddenly, I heard a voice right next to me; the woman had walked over to us. I started to apologize when she asked Charlotte “Hi, what is your name?” I immediately started to tear up as I answered her. She continued talking in a calm, sweet voice, while she patted Charlotte’s leg over and over. She explained that she had a daughter too and that one time her daughter got upset at a store and she didn’t know what to do until another mommy came over to help her and now that mommy was one of her good friends. She talked directly to Charlotte while patting her legs.
Although I was glad that Charlotte was calming down, my first instinct was to defend myself. I kept thinking that I needed to explain the situation. I needed to tell her that I spend all day at work researching and writing about Baby Behavior. She needed to know that I didn’t bring Charlotte to the store when she needed a nap and that I knew she couldn’t calm herself down when she was so upset. She needed to know that I am a good mom and that I love my baby.
Once Charlotte had stopped crying, the woman smiled and suggested that I turn on the air conditioner (why did not I think of that?) before putting the baby in the car. She offered to hold Charlotte for a minute, but Charlotte clung to me, so she got her blanky out of the diaper bag and handed it to Charlotte. I wiped the tears from my eyes and thanked her. She said that it was no problem at all and that someday she knew I would do the same for another mom. She stayed by my side as I strapped Charlotte, who was still sniffling, into her seat.
|Charlotte (on a much happier day!)
Looking back now, I know this mom was right. Charlotte had never been so upset and I could not have known what would happen that day. It was the perfect storm of a change in routine, warm weather, an overwhelming environment, and a day when my baby was more sensitive than usual. I am grateful for this mom’s help and I hope she knows how much it meant to me. It seems like there is so little patience and tolerance for kids and families these days, but the few minutes she spent with us had a huge impact on my life. Now, when my kids are upset or frustrated, I remember how calm she was. When we are in public, I know that there are other people around who understand what I am experiencing. I am able to ignore the impatient and judgmental people and focus on my kids.
And, she was right, I will help someone else someday.