For you, momma, with the Screaming Toddler in Target

I was pushing one of those carts that provides a seat for each of our three kids–you know the ones that kids gravitate toward instantly upon entering Target, and then five minutes later want to only walk beside.  They are as easy to navigate as a semi-truck and occupy nearly the entire aisle regardless of how much you try to sidle to the side.

So, I am pushing one of those smooth moving carts through the main aisle of Target–Audrey, for whom the cart’s wonder had worn off, was walking beside the cart hanging onto it (making it even easier to steer and keep from running into other shoppers). Charlotte perched precariously next to Beckett who had moments before been trying to push her off the seat. He was now preoccupied with sobbing so loudly that the employees doing inventory in the back must have heard him.  The reason for the most recent outburst of tears–after three times of kindly instructing him to stop licking the cart (it’s flu season, people!) I had squeezed his chubby cheeks just enough for him to feel a bit of discomfort with the choice he was making. To really set this scene, I should remind you that I am 28 weeks pregnant and in full waddle mode as I am pushing my three people in the red semi-truck cart.

I waddled past the raised eyebrows and sympathetic looks to the self-check out, because I certainly didn’t want to expose a cashier to my current reality.  Somehow, in the midst of another bout of tears because I refused to let Beckett out of the cart to scan his fruit leather (because I was trying to get our booties out of that store as quickly as possible), I was able to check out and get to the glorious freedom of the parking lot.

No good deed goes unpunished, I whispered to myself as I loaded Beckett into the car followed by the bags filled with birthday gifts for daddy.  Church had gotten out a bit early, Mark was still playing guitar for the second service, and I had thought it would be the perfect opportunity to take all three kid shopping at once for Daddy’s birthday. And yet, there I sat, in the driver’s seat waiting to back out with tears in my eyes.  My happy and playful voice that I’d walked into the store with had become frustrated and militant by the time we left the store.

I was angry–it had not been the fun time I had imagined, it was embarrassing, my coat probably needed to be thrown in the wash because the rush of adrenaline and embarrassment over the multiple fits thrown made me so sweaty. What is more is that over the weekend, I had been given a fresh charge from God to disciple my people intentionally to know and follow Jesus–He had given me fresh insight, motivation, and ideas. And, it only took one Target run to make me want to lock the whole lot of them in the basement for the afternoon.

I know I am not the only momma who goes from inspired to deflated in a matter of minutes.  So, to the other mommas with tired two year olds, or emotional elementary kiddos, or exhausting pre-teens (or a whole mix), don’t stop now. When you get out to that Target parking lot, kiss the head of that fit-throwing toddler; go home (lock yourself in the bathroom or garage for thirty seconds to regroup with the Holy Spirit), and then keep loving them with Jesus-love.

Recently, I heard Jill Briscoe speak at IF: Gathering 2017; she said something that fuels my momma heart–

“You go where you’re sent,

and you stay where you’re put,

and you give what you’ve got until you’re done.”

Mommas, like it or not, we’ve been sent to disciple these little people filling our homes with laughter and bellows–so, we are to keep our feet planted and give, and give, and give.  As we refresh, lead, teach, and love on our people, our faithful Father will refresh us, lead us, teach us, and continue filling us with His big love.

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