Tale 114: Public Parenting

Plop down and follow these three crazy Moms of Stillwater in this weekly column; their rants, raves, honest and raw conversations about surviving motherhood in this sweet little town. Welcome to the Mutha’Hood.
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I thought I could stay cooped up in my fenced in yard forever. I figured I would be fine spending my days in the security of the playroom with white noise blaring in the background. But after day 14 in newborn confinement, I knew the day was coming. I would have to pull myself together. Take off the sweats. Comb out the snarls and pray that my swollen feet would fit into my flats. At some point there comes a time when you need to get out of the house and face the real world.

But there is this thing called public parenting that scares the bejesus out of us.

Leaving your house with your kids, especially a newborn, is daunting task. Your palms are sweaty, your perfect plan crumbles like a teething biscuit. You start questioning everything. Do I really need to buy more toothpaste? Can’t we just put water in our cereal? Unfortunately there is no getting around the fact that you need diapers and bringing out baby is a must.

I was hoping to find a book with rules and exit plans to follow. I was determined to look like a poised parent and eloquent mom. But there was no such guide on public parenting, and I was on my own. I had questions like, ‘Am I supposed to put my baby in that little safety seat attached to the shopping cart? Who does that?’

If I put the car seat in the cart, where am I supposed to put all the crap I need to buy.

Should I be pulling a cart alongside me? I need four red shirts to help me wheel these things around. Nobody told me how to do this. That is when you realize how wonderful Target is for being the one-stop shop. Praise you bullseye.

I quickly found out that planning was everything. There was no fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants-to-go-run-a-few-errands. All that spells is disaster. I knew I had to work around nap times, snack times, lunchtime, potty times. This was the nitty gritty. I needed a flight plan, a detailed map. A full-blown itinerary.

I found the perfect mommy purse for these monumental outings. Big enough to be stocked with wipes, teething rings, batteries, three kinds of snacks, more wipes, a stuffed animal, band-aids, a board book, plastic baggies, a change of clothes (for the whole family). I tried to fit a puppy in there, but that didn’t work.  The bag already weighed 15 pounds. And with a toddler on one hip and a 20-pound car seat on the other, I was at my weight limit.

I had my Exit Plan. I knew my escapes routes if the baby screamed and I started to lactate. Try not to visualize.

I located the express checkout lanes and programmed the candy aisle into my GPS.

I watched to see how other moms handled the “I Want” Tantrum their kids were throwing. Many moms gave in, but the real troopers were the ones who just said no and left their kids crying on the floor. GOOD for you for holding your ground!

I saw one mom wiping down the cart with sanitary wipes, and when I walked by and smelled the stench I knew why — blowout of the diaper. The worst.

By the time I got to the freezer section, things started to unravel for me. Whines turned into screams, and I knew my time was coming. Here I was with a cart full of my daily essentials like People Magazine, Dove bars and diapers. But the screams were getting louder. I just couldn’t take it. I decided to leave it all behind. I was still new at this. I tried to think of my exit plan, but it just wasn’t working. I darted out the automatic doors with my babies in tow, and I yelled, “CODE RED. Full cart in Aisle 20.”

All the other moms looked at me. I got the PUH-thetic look from them as I ran by. Some gave me the thumbs up and knew exactly what I was going through. I buckled under pressure. I didn’t fully understand all the do’s and don’ts. I started in the high-risk area with no real training. And as I packed up my mommy purse I heard from afar, “Study your zones FIRST!”

Soon I realized what my plan was missing. I should’ve started in a low risk zone like our neighborhood park and the McDonald’s drive-thru.

The grocery store and Target are risky, and it takes months of training to execute. So my tip to all the new moms just starting off. KNOW your zones and prepare accordingly. Good luck Moms of Stillwater. It’s a parenting nightmare out there.