I should have waited until after the post office to mention the popcorn at Target.
Instead, I told her the whole plan as soon as we got in the car. She was already a little cranky, so I knew that popcorn would perk her up.
Unfortunately, we had to go to the post office first, and we pass Target on the way. And she knows that Target is the popcorn place. So as we passed Target, the tantrum roared so loud that she could not hear me explain that we would get popcorn after the post office.
I should have just turned the car around then.
Instead, I proceeded to the post office, talked her down from the tantrum, and ran through the rain to get inside the building.
She was upset that she didn’t get to “walk with mommy”.
So as we stood in line, two people in front of me and a growing line of four and more people behind me, she showed me her displeasure by going limp noodle and hanging from my hand that she had been holding.
Few things drive me crazier than the limp noodle.
Every time she stood, she leaned on the chains that were set up to indicate where we were to be standing in line, knocking them over.
I picked her up then, letting her know that if she couldn’t stand up like a big girl, mommy would have to hold her.
And all you-know-what broke loose.
The screaming started then. The ear-piercing, face scrunched, make-sure-everyone-is-watching kind of scream. As I began to tell her that we do NOT yell, she hauled off and hit me in the face. A few times. I pinned her arms close to my body and the screams started again. Wash, rinse, repeat.
We were next in line, and Jon really needed me to mail this package. Of course, the person in front of me brought in a BAG of packages to mail, none of which were addressed or had postage. So we stood there. Screaming, hitting, trying to maintain some semblance of composure.
And then she ripped my earring clear out of my ear, and screamed into it.
I paid for that package faster than I’ve done anything in my life and we got out of that post office.
As we left, Emily calmed down for a second, looked at me, and said “popcorn time!”.
Ha. Yeah right, kid.
We skipped Target and went straight home, which, of course, resulted in another round of tantrums. At least this time she was confined to her carseat.
As soon as we walked in our front door, I put her in her time out spot, explained why she was there, and ran away as fast as I could.
It was just around the corner into the kitchen, but still. I ran.
And I let her sit in her time out spot for longer than the recommended two minutes. It was more like fifteen.
I needed to calm down. I needed her to calm down. I was so angry and embarrassed and dealing with the feeling of being a total mom failure.
Why couldn’t I control my daughter? Why couldn’t she behave for the ten minutes we went into the post office? Why, when she did act out, could I not stay calm and speak peacefully?
It was a hard day. And although the time out gave us both some much needed space to breathe, the tantrums and screams continued on and off until bedtime.
I have one child. Only one. And she exhausts me and brings me to the end of myself more than one day a week.
I love her with my whole life. I want the best for her, and I would throw myself in front of a bus for her. But this mommy gig? It’s hard work. And there are days, like yesterday at the post office, where I feel like I am completely and utterly inadequate.
Some days I wonder if I’m cut out for this. Some days I wonder how on earth I will ever manage two. Or more. Some days I feel like I just can’t be a mom today.
I’m learning, though, that even the best moms have days like yesterday.
One thing about Emily’s … spirited … personality is that it drives me to my knees. Never before in my life have I prayed with such urgency for patience and wisdom and needed both of those things right that second. Jesus has to be present in my parenting, every moment of the day, or else I’m at serious risk of screwing up my job here.
I wonder if, most days, you feel the same.
So tell me, friends. In the spirit of not being alone, I’d love to hear your “post office stories”. The ones where you want to melt into a puddle in the middle of a very public place. The ones where you feel like losing your mind is an actual possibility. Let’s share, laugh, bond, and remind each other that no, we aren’t alone.
We’ve got each other. And a Jesus who promises to walk with us and give us what we need.
Let’s thank God for that! And confess your post office stories. Go!
(And also, if anyone has any advice on how to put a stop to the screaming, I’d love you forever.)
Link up your Marriage & Mommyhood posts below – anything on faith, family, or post office stories.