Well, unfortunately for me today I became known as ‘That Mom’. That mom who can’t control her screaming kid. That mom who had all eyes on her in the walk-in clinic. That mom who was desperately trying everything to stop her child from screaming and crying. That mom who was silently being judged by all those who witnessed this epic meltdown. Yes, today I was that mom.
You see, I needed to see my doctor (nothing to worry about, I’m fine) but she was booking appointments into April. Her secretary told me if I wanted to get in sooner then perhaps I should go to the walk-in clinic on Wednesday as my doctor would be there from 9 am-12 pm. So I thought to myself “Ok. Sure no problem. I’ll just get up earlier on Wednesday and go first thing.” Originally, I hadn’t planned on taking Nate with me. The clinic is really no place for a healthy toddler but my babysitting plans fell through last minute so I was forced to bring him along. At first, I thought it wouldn’t be a big deal. Nate and I go out together all the time and usually he’s pretty good. He might have one or two small melt downs but nothing that would classify me into ‘That Mom’ category. But let me tell you, after three friggin hours in that place he was NOT having any more of it! And really who could blame him? I’d just about had had enough of that place too.
I arrived at exactly 9:15 am thinking I was being quite prompt as the clinic had JUST opened. The parking lot was basically empty and I didn’t see a sign in line formed. All seemed like excellent points in our favour. I was actually smirking to myself thinking I’d be in and out in under 45 minutes. Well, boy was I ever WRONG. The moment I actually walked through the doors, I was greeted with a good 20-something people sitting in the waiting room chairs. I should have just walked out then but seeing as how my doctor was only there until noon and only does the clinic once a week, I really wanted to wait it out to see her. This proved to be a major mistake on my part.
Poor Nate had to be held in my arms almost the whole time because he did not want to sit in his stroller and I couldn’t allow him to run around the clinic with all the sick people and germs everywhere. At first he was content and I was silently praying to myself that it would continue and I could escape this disaster of a morning meltdown free, but alas that was not the case. Within about 20 minutes he was starting to squirm in my arms and beginning to whine that he wanted down. I tried distracting him with the signs on the walls or his stuffed animal Scout (who he usually loves) but he wasn’t having any of it. He wanted to be down. To run free. To explore this these new surroundings I brought him to and much to his dismay, I would not allow it. This started causing the screams and the tears and basically the whole body flaying backwards to the point where I thought I was going to drop him moves. After an hour, I’d just about called it quits when I thought to myself “Why don’t I put on Thomas and Friends on on my phone? Surely he’ll sit and watch that right?” Wrong. That lasted a total of 30 minutes before ‘The Meltdown’ occurred. You know the one. The ear-piercing screams coupled with the hysterical sobs and big, fat, crocodile tears. Yep. That meltdown. The meltdown of all meltdowns. And of course I was alone throughout this entire process. I didn’t have Kurt’s reassuring glances or shared embarrassment that comes when you’re with your spouse in public and your kid melts down. Nope. I was alone and internally freaking the F out. Usually, I’m cool with this sort of thing. I don’t mind if I feel eyes judging me or my parenting skills because to be honest, I really don’t care. My life isn’t anyone’s business but my own and I know I’m raising my child in a loving manner.
But with this meltdown, I could literally feel all eyes on me without looking up. I knew exactly what they were thinking. “Can’t this mom control her son?” “God, look at how poorly she’s controlling him.” “She’s just letting him have an absolute meltdown in front of all these people.” “Why is she even still standing there? Take him and run. She’s an embarrassment and annoying all these sick people.” Yeah, I knew what they were all thinking. Aside from the girl in the corner who kept giving me a reassuring smile, no one else did anything to ease my mind.
And then when I finally got into the room and met with my doctor, I was given some requisitions to fill out and take down to the lab. Great, more waiting. In total, I’d been in the clinic for two and a half hours meaning my parking ticket had expired so I basically had to run with Nate in toe to the parking lot, grab my Visa out of my wallet, pay for another two hours, and race back inside to head down to the lab. And wouldn’t you know, it was also PACKED! Again we waited for another 20 minutes before I was called and again Nate had another massive meltdown. This time in front of an entirely new audience. When it was all said and done, I felt like I’d been to battle. I was physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted. I felt beat and broken down and didn’t know how I was going to pick myself back up. All I wanted to do was crawl into a corner and cry or sleep. I’m honestly not sure which.
So why did I assume that I was being judged and having people think of me as ‘That Mom’? Well, because to be perfectly honest, I’ve been one of those people before. I’ve silently judged a mother who couldn’t control her child in Walmart. I’ve whispered “Why would he even bring his young daughter to the movies. She’s never going to stay quiet the whole time”. I’ve rolled my eyes when I’ve realized I’ve been seated beside a small child or infant at a sporting event. I’ve done all those things and now it was my turn to be on the other side. I’m not proud that I judged parents before when I thought they weren’t “controlling” their kids in public but it was a deeply humbling experience to be on the other side of the fence. To know all those looks and whispers were directed towards me is something I won’t ever forget.
And so I say to all those parents I’ve judged in the past, I’m sorry. It was not my place to criticize your parenting skills. The truth is, sometimes children just freak out and there’s nothing you can do about it. You just have to sit back and watch the train wreck unfold.