On Learning to Not Care About What Other People Think

by The Momma on February 13, 2012

I think it was the moment that I was standing in JCPenneys with my child flung over my shoulder while he screamed bloody murder, kicked and flailed and turned purple with rage that I determined I really can’t care what other people think anymore.

You’d think that the injustices of pregnancy, the loss of all modesty of delivery, the over-exposure of nursing, or the time I showed up to work with oatmeal in my hair and spitup on the crotch of my work pants would have been enough to make me stop caring what other people thought, but I think it’s really been the toddler tantrums that have made me say, with 100% conviction:

“I just don’t care.”

That’s not to say that I don’t care about my child, obviously, or that I don’t care that we’re raising him right, or that I don’t care about being “that parent.” But in the middle of a toddler meltdown (and hoo-boy, are we getting our fair share of toddler meltdowns lately), I can’t care. I can’t care about the eyeballs on me, or the exasperated sighs from other store patrons, or the looks of chagrin from store employees.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing that’s not embarrassing about your child being totally out of his gourd with frustration. It’s hard, in those moments, to not feel like you’re failing. The defiance and willfulness and stubbornness of my toddler make me wonder often if we’re messing up. Trust me, those looks from outsiders is nothing compared to what I put myself through. But in eye of the storm, it’s my job to block out those other people and focus on my child. The only way he’s going to learn, the only way WE can teach him, is if we focus on him and not other people.

I don’t like being the mom of the kid having the nuclear meltdown in the middle of shoe shopping. I don’t like having to physically remove him from the store before he spontaneously combusts from the outburst. But my not liking it has almost nothing to do with what other people think of me or my kid, and everything to do with me wanting to be the parent who can help her kid learn to manage those outbursts for HIS sake.

In the end, I care more about what he becomes, and how we get him there, than I do what other people think.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Cloud February 13, 2012 at 7:14 pm

Oh, I’ve been there. This is one thing that I have found to be MUCH easier the second time around- not because there are fewer tantrums and less bad behavior, but because I’m more confident as a mother and I don’t mind the startled stares from my neighbors when my toddler lays down in front of their house and declares she is going to take her nap right there- and then screams and does that amazing boneless things toddlers can do when I finally pick her up to move her to a more appropriate location.

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Canadian Dad February 13, 2012 at 9:27 pm

My kids throw some pretty crazy tantrums themselves. Whoever invented the term “Terrible Two’s” must have had it lucky because we’re at the “Freak Out Four’s” with no end in sight, lol. I’m with you though, I stopped caring a while back. I don’t even drag them out of the stores anymore, I just continue on with my shopping until I’m done. It’s not like they stop when you get to the car so my thought is that if I have to listen to it, so should everyone else, haha.

Great Post! Thanks for the laugh.

Chris

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Kate February 15, 2012 at 9:23 pm

Your post was perfect timing. We have been riding a rough sea of one tantrum and then another and then another… We delivered handmade valentines to our neighbor next door and after giving the homemade crayon, we started to leave but turned back when Beckett decided she wanted the crayon back. She opened the door, barged in and demanded the crayon. Then the fit started when I told her that her behavior is unacceptable. I worked to extract her, while holding Camden and drag her kicking and screaming back to our house… It was lovely. Just lovely. :) But, just because my kid acts like a s&^%, doesn’t mean I’m a s*&^%^ parent. At least that’s what I keep telling myself…

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