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Humiliating Mommy: Meltdown in a Supermarket

Preschool is closed this week so I had no choice but to drag my 5-year twins to the supermarket yesterday. Unless we wanted to go hungry. Now, my boys are rather easy going and manageable but shopping with them usually ends up in trouble and yesterday was no exception.

It all started with the argument who gets to ride on the shopping trolley first. We could settle this with a toss of a coin but F wasn’t too happy about it. The final straw came when it was time to buy popsicles. They couldn’t agree which brand to get. They know of course, that arguments such as this would result in Mommy not buying anything at all. Which was what happened.

Somehow, F snapped. He’s been cooped up with his twin brother non-stop for 3 days whereas they go to separate classes at school. So he took out his frustration on the referee – me – just as a soccer player who felt unfairly treated would. My 5-year old son pummelled me with little fists and started screaming at the top of his voice – in the middle of the supermarket. I was really at loss because this has never happened before. We had cases of broken jars and smashed watermelons but never such a meltdown. So I had to cut short my shopping and dragged a screaming boy and another dumbfounded one to the check-out. Everybody was staring at us, all with disapproving glares. The lady at the check-out was the worst. Probably at her early twenties, she was very gruff, and I could almost read her thoughts which most probably went “what a brat – and what a loser mother. That will never happen to me when I get to be mommy.”

Frankly, I couldn’t blame her. I used to think the same thing before I had kids. But it was one of the most humiliating moments I’ve ever experienced and the lack of sympathy around me only made it worse. I then recalled a previous post about parents of autistic children getting removed from airplanes and restaurants. Now I knew how they felt.

I remember shopping alone a couple of months back in the same supermarket. I remember seeing a harassed mom with twin boys of about 3 years old. The boys were as precocious and as active as any kid of their age – running and giggling along the aisles. Then came this old grumpy old man who told the mom sharply “This is a supermarket, not a playground, you know.” The poor woman turned red. She dumped her 2 protesting boys into her trolley and hurried to the check out. I felt so sorry for her and followed her to the check out. “Excuse me“, I said. “Yes?”, she said rather defensively. “I think you are doing a terrific job and your boys are so cute.” The young mommy started to smile and looked as if a huge burden was taken off her shoulders. Her “Thanks” really sounded grateful

Now back to me and my boys. We had to go back today where we left off yesterday, but we daren’t show our faces at the same supermarket again. So we went to another one a couple of blocks further. This time they were in good spirits. We had a serious talk earlier about how to behave in a supermarket. At the vegetable and fruit section, an elderly lady approached me and said “You have such nice boys. Are they twins?”

“Yes, they are.”

“And they are bilingual, too. I heard them talking Swiss-German to each other. Well-done.”

“Thank you.” I replied with a big proud smile. Gosh, I could have used such a compliment yesterday.

But I guess that’s the life of a mother. Each day is different and we cannot expect everything to go smoothly everytime. We can only do the best we can and show solidarity to other mothers. We are all in the same boat.

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