Clean Up in Aisle 7: A Mama Meltdown

We were on a mission to Target and I was already exhausted. Snacks: check! Stubborn overloaded cart: check! Cranky child: check! Getting myself and two children ages one and two out the door was going to be no small accomplishment.

“I need help” was not part of my vocabulary before I had kids. Independent, self-reliant, emotionally stable, responsible, and punctual, were words I would’ve used to describe myself before these little … bundles of joy … entered my life and changed everything! Though I found it difficult to admit, one word now seemed to describe my life as a young mom: “needy!”

Key to my strategy for a successful trip to Target was to diligently avoid the toy isle, but somewhere along my predetermined path, Adriel, my two year old son, spotted a truck from his beloved CARS movie. “Hold truck . . . mine?” he asked simply, and with reluctance, I let him hold it. Once in his hands there was no going back. One of two endings would be my fate. My son was going to leave with a new $15 truck, or I was going to leave in tears with a 2 year old screaming in my arms. We recently moved from New Jersey, trying to adjust to life with two little ones and one income was a big change. We really were just getting by and a $15 truck was not in our budget.

I’m a strong mother. I’m not one to “give in” to the irrational demands of a screaming, kicking, toddler. I had abandoned many-a-full carts at the grocery store because of a meltdown or two. Yet, something had switched the emotional crazy button within me and as I considered the two diapers I’d already changed, the slushy spill in aisle 7, and the food debris that was everywhere, I just wanted to avoid my own very public mommy-tantrum.

So I bought the truck.

After getting everyone buckled up and sitting in the car, with a sigh of relief the tears started rolling down my cheeks. Feeling drained and defeated I called my sister, “I just bought a $15 truck for Adriel because I couldn’t handle him melting down in the store . . . a truck. . . a toy. . . It was $15.” What I heard on the other side of the phone changed my life. In that moment, right there in the parking lot of Target I heard the simple but profoundly comforting words, “Chris, it’s okay. It’s okay.” I needed to hear those words. I needed another mom to tell me I was okay. I needed a mom to express that she understood how hard being a mom can be, that I was doing the best I knew how. I needed someone to say, “it’s okay, and it’ll be okay.”

Moms, we need each other. Moms of adult children, we need your voice! Not to say tritely, “… been there done that,” but rather to say “I’ve been there, and we will get through this together” Moms of younger children, we need each other! We need to say to each other, “I know it’s hard sometimes, but let’s talk about it.” We just need to recognize that in this crazy world the mature parenting choice is actually to press the crazy button, turn some music up really loud, and dance around the living room with our children rather than pretending that life has neat and tidy edges and perfectly pressed corners. Let our children bang their hearts out on pots and pans and maybe even join them! Laughing at the spilled slushy and turning these imperfect moments into memories to treasure!

As a community of fallen yet redeemed people we might just need to release each other from the impossible burden of perfection and allow ourselves to make mistakes, cry, and parent our children in gospel freedom. Rather than voices of judgement we need to start praying passionately, encouraging sincerely, and supporting one other with the grace that has been shown to us. I learned from that experience that sometimes it really is okay to buy a $15 truck in order to preserve your mental sanity.

It’s been 6 years, and this truck is still part of our collection and is played with often. I don’t think this one will go in the donation box. No, I want to keep it as a reminder to be the mom that reaches out to another mom at Target to say, “It’s okay, I’m with you, we can walk through this together, in fact, Mama, you are doing a great job!” Valor Moms, thank you for what you do. Thank you for raising Valor boys, for investing in the lives of your sons, and seeking to raise godly men of today and tomorrow.

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