Follow-through (n): the continuing of an action or task to its conclusion. Or in mom-words, a fucking nightmare.
It comes out of nowhere, but one day you wake up and your child is a little too smart for his/her own good. They suddenly think they OWN us. And let’s be honest, they do. We’ve spent years obsessing about everything little thing they’ve accomplished. Mumbling out, “baba” awarded them praise as if they’ve almost mastered the English language and have sights set for Harvard. Rolling over BOTH WAYS reserved them a spot on the Olympic gymnastics team. And the first time they said a naughty word everyone grabbed their phones to take video because it was adorable and social media would eat that shit up. So now today, on the day your little angel transforms into Satan’s spawn, why would we think we have any form of control?
Let’s set the scene. Target. 10:30am. Majority of shoppers are moms in head to toe Lululemon which makes you wonder if they just left the gym or not which reminds you to start working out again, or maybe just put on some yoga pants instead of your husbands sweatpants so you don’t look so homeless, but that’s all for another day. Stay focused. You have your fellow Starbucks drinking mom tribe with you & you are in your happy place! You have a cart full of items, likely not on your list, and are half way through the store and then your child sees a bag of M&Ms. “No sweetie, it’s 10:45 in the morning, we don’t need those.” Then it happens. Your child looses their shit. Not like a crying, sad loose their shit. I’m talking about the world is over, flailing screaming tantrum in the middle of the floor at Target epic meltdown loose their shit. WTF just happened? What in the actual fuck?! We used to stare, completely flabbergasted, in our pre-motherhood years when a child would act like that in public. “What type of mother lets their kid act that way? I will NEVER be one of those mothers!” And now here we are. Our perfect child is that kid.
The problem with these brilliant humans we created is that they know who, what, when and where. They know which parent they can rile up, what they want to get away with, when will be the least opportune time and you can guarantee it will be in front of a ton of strangers. So it happens. At first you stay calm. No big deal, I’ve totally got this. “Honey what’s the matter? Ohhh baby it’s okay!” Not working. Move onto distraction. “Look at this! Can you tell me what color this is?” Nope. Nothing. Now you move on to negotiations with your little terrorist. “Do you want my phone to play with?” “If you calm down we can have some M&Ms after lunch” “Do you want to…WAIT NO! WHAT AM I DOING??? My kid is 3! T H R E E! Why am I negotiating? I am the parent…right? You feel your face getting hot & here it comes. Anger & the big ultimatum. “If you don’t stop acting like this, we are leaving immediately!”
Shit. Why did I say that? I’m not ready to leave Target. I still have so much shopping to do! I can’t leave yet. PLEASE little monster, PLEASE get your act together! I need some divine intervention to help me here! God can you hear me???
And now is the moment where follow through bitch slaps you across the face. She’s here to rear her ugly head and make you prove yourself as a parent. It would be SO much easier to give in, grab the bag of M&Ms and muster through the rest of your trip looking down at the “I OWN YOU” grin smeared across your little one’s face thinking they’ve “won”, but in reality you have both lost. Your little angel thinks that throwing a tantrum gets them what they want. See definition of entitlement.
It may seem easier, but raising a good human isn’t supposed to be easy. So let’s pull up our mom jeans & get our shit together. We are going to follow through and not give in to their demands. Now it’s time to put blinders on. Guaranteed your child’s tantrum will go from an 8 to a 12 REAL quick so the judgey eyes will be out of control. That “mom tribe” you thought were your shopping confidantes can quickly turn into your own self-conscious enemy as you are mortified by the thoughts going through their minds. “Do they think I am being too strict? Their kids are probably perfect! Is mine the only child that has even thrown a tantrum in the history of forever?!”
So put on those blinders, grab your little one and get the hell out before you change your mind.
You will apologetically mouth the word “SORRY” to an employee, walk quickly to the car & battle to get them buckled into their carseat while people passing by hear screams, turn and stare making sure they shouldn’t be calling CPS on you. You close the door, turn on the music and ugly cry.
This is the problem with follow-through. You feel so guilty afterwards. You are ready to accept your trophy for “WORST PARENT IN THE WORLD” but trust me, you are doing what is best for your child. These little angels are shaped by every decision we make. We are responsible for raising teenagers and adults that are not assholes. We want them to have friends & a family one day. We want them to teach these same lessons to their kids. We don’t need more assholes in the world. We need well behaved kids who respect others and know that NO doesn’t mean cry harder. And yes, it completely SUCKS, especially when your angel is old enough to tell you that his/her friend “gets to” (in a super obnoxious voice). Moments of weakness creep in where you want to be the cool mom too, but stay strong. You’re not worried about that child. You’re worried about YOUR child and your child will be better for it.
I’d like to tell you that if you get through the first one, it will never happen again, but it’s just not true. Sorry. Some are easy & some will send you into a bottle of red wine, but you get stronger each time. You become more confident in the decisions you make for your kids, even if they are hard. You will care less about what other people think and someday lend a nice “been there” smile to a mom in the same situation. These kids who are so independently, dependent need to learn how to navigate the world we live in and you’re doing a great job at the hardest job in the world! Now I brace myself for what comes after toddlerhood tantrums!
- Do not give an ultimatum or promise you can’t keep! Telling your child that Christmas won’t come this year isn’t going to work! Make sure you don’t set yourself up to fail!
- Remember your little Satan’s spawn angel devil baby is learning from you! Try to keep your cool while you’re following through, no matter how much you might want to yell back at them like they’re your annoying little sibling (easier said than done)! If you feel yourself boiling over put your little one in a safe place (like their crib), walk away & take a breather! Resume parenting when you’re calm!
- If you have a unicorn child that doesn’t ever throw a tantrum or don’t have children and bear witness to someone going through this, check your judgey eyes and remember that mama is doing her best to not raise a dick so be nice.
*I am no parenting expert, just some personal advice after surviving a public tantrum or 2! Good luck!