I remember you, walking through the store, pushing the stroller containing your wiggly toddler. Before you left the house you carefully, and with just a touch of desperation, packed that stroller with a spill-proof (ish) container of goldfish crackers, a toddler cup of watered down juice (empty now because that kid is always thirsty) and favourite toys safely strapped to the stroller. You have a collection of spare clothes (most of them clean), diapers, wipes and toys shoved in the storage cart, “just in case”. You even have the wallet and keys you almost forgot, and – bonus – a drink for yourself.
You left the house with the best of intentions. To get away from the walls you’ve memorised, to take a break from the bright colours and sharp tones of the same episode of the same children’s show you’ve been watching on repeat for days. To finally buy some new socks or do a little “pretend shopping” for pretty things that you have no idea when you’ll be able to afford or own for more than 5 minutes before it’s broken or stained.
So here you are, wandering through the store that has everything. You’re aimless and things aren’t going well. Everything is loud and quiet at the same time. Colourful and monotone at the same time. You’re pushing an uncomfortably loud, slightly red, fairly frustrated tiny being who is resisting the restraints of the stroller. You’re trying to make them believe that the pacifier (or toy or goldfish cracker) that you pulled out of your overflowing bag is a brand new, incredibly exciting invention that they’ve never seen before but damn, you’ve got a smart kid. A strong-willed kid. A kid who will not be appeased.
Until you decide it can’t get worse so you walk down the toy aisle. Instinctively, they grab the first thing they can reach. A stuffed toy that goes straight into their mouth so any return policy for this item (that you haven’t even paid for) is null and void. But it’s ok, because the resistance has subsided, muscles have relaxed, the tiny fists are still tight but only because they’re happily and peacefully holding onto that stuffed tiger’s legs while chewing on its ear. Finances are stretched but you gladly hand the cashier your credit card (after she leans her handy little scanning machine over the counter so your now adorable toddler doesn’t have to let go of their new friend) to be charged $7.99 for an afternoon of peace. A long-term investment (hopefully the rest of the afternoon at least) that will be well worth sacrificing those new socks for (because we can’t have it all!).
Long story short, Stroller Mom, the crying, the throwing, the breaking, the dirtying – it's overwhelming. But today, you found a tiny saviour that brought joy, peace and just enough hope to keep you going. In the years to come, you’ll keep looking for those tiny saviours because pretty much every phase (I’m looking at you teenage years), includes crying and throwing and breaking and dirtying. Sometimes the saviour is a stuffed animal (even if it’s unexpectedly purchased), a sweet treat, a warm bath or a walk by yourself. And one day it will be finding that old stuffed animal in a box and remembering this moment. This crazy, chaotic, “the-circus-must-be-easier” moment that you survived. Oddly, that tiny saviour will get you through this phase too.