Whole Parenting Family

Humiliation that Only a Three Year Old Can Heap On {7QTs}

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This past week, I actually had an in-real-life moment that mirrored what I’m always encouraging other moms not to get worked up about little kids are just like this, right? At moms’ group, my daughter had a complete screaming fit while grabbing ahold of me, in front of everyone, while I was taking notes on the white board.

I love cheering and encouraging the young mom on. I’m often thinking about the problems we face, and blabbing about it on Facebook. Or snapping a really real pic of my house’s messes and screaming kids for instagram just to say, hey, it’s okay, we are all in this hard time together. I had to cheer myself on a little bit.

Because every now and then, be it at swim class or at mom’s group, or anywhere that isn’t in her comfort zone, my three and a half year old SweetPea can really lose her s*&t. And so it happened the other day.

I was embarrassed, a little. I was kinda glad it was my kid and not someone else’s because I wasn’t that embarrassed. Maybe I should have been. I scanned the crowd and figured the ladies with older kids thought that looks familiar and the ladies with younger kids probably thought what the heck is her problem and why isn’t Nell doing something about it.

Buckle up for a long narrative. Ready? Here’s my overwritten version of the aforementioned meltdown.

whole parenting goods cap

1) It was going to be a busy day. A busy, driving around, balancing boxes of napkins and coffee makers, juggling dolly (Chloe) + her tattered snuggling blanket, coxing a sensitive three year old girl, and stretttttching the hours before the 16 month old napped. I knew this ahead of time. It wasn’t really a surprise how it all unfolded, collapsed, and bombed, then.

One of my joys in stay-at-home, work-at-home motherhood is my parish moms’ group. It’s been going for three years now since a girlfriend (now two successors in) and I started it. I wanted an informal meet up once a month for Catholic moms from the area to bring their small kids, affirm and be affirmed, talk about a particular topic, as well as coordinate meals for new babies arriving or deceasing.

We just launched our new year of the group, aligning with the school year as we take summers at the park, and my girlfriend (co-leader) and I thought we’d do it up fancy fun. Coffee! Tea! Lemonade! Cinnamon Rolls! Fruit! Our pastor, excessively busy yet exceedingly kind man that he is, agreed to pop over toward the end and give us a blessing and chat, too. Perfect. We can shower him with a little hospitality, too!

I underestimated how resistant to going to the bathroom my daughter would be before it was time to embark out to pick up the rolls on the way to group. I also underestimated how often my teething, leaky-bottomed tot would need a number2 wipe before this journey. #novicemom

{My sister was kindly watching SuperBoy so he, at least, was safe and sound from the acceleration of my anxiety that morning, doing math & puzzles with her upstairs as we finally made our way out to the van, no one wearing shoes, everyone protesting.}

2) Glancing at the clock I felt that ashamed-how-did-it-get-this-late feeling which translated to switching our rolls destination and grabbing them from a closer locale–and while there, my powerful brute of a tot yanked down an entire stand of napkins and my daughter tried to lick the glass casing.

We rolled into the church parking lot, somehow find a spot which never happens, and I drag the kiddos into the parish office with me to ask for the door to the church basement to be opened by the kind secretary who has to call the kind custodian who has to do this song &dance for us every month (sorry!!). Then we make a few trips from the car with the coffee, rolls, kids, bag of delightful tricks that should keep SweetPea happy, and everyone’s shoes down the stairs, through the corridor, and into the meeting room.

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3) I had underestimated again, how much room the new table in that meeting room gobbled up:



S    P   A   C   E

taken by one

BIG wooden table that wasn’t suitable for sitting and talking around or having our kids etch into.

A quick few shifts of side tables & folding chairs meant the moms could kinda sit in a circle in the corner and the kids could color on a surface that was washable, and the coffee could get brewing, and the hot water thing for the tea. || The one that was on my kitchen counter along with the cream & sugar. || The lemonade could be set out with the most moistest cinnamon rolls in the world and plates and napkins and do not eat that roll–that is not until the other mamas get here. And I was sweating by the time they did arrive but wearing an all-too-revealing-I-slept-in-it-camisole so I couldn’t shed a layer.

Ladies arrived, so many lovely ladies and their beautiful children! And we chatted. And my kids were semi-happy. Until my daughter remembered. She remembered those rolls. Those sticky. Glazed. Sweet. Smelling. Rolls.

4) I was standing in front of a white board, taking notes of our topic ideas for the year’s discussion when it hit her. The insatiable need for the cinnamon roll. The dire, deep, crazed, only a three year old can be this possessed by a need, sort of grip on her heart.

She started low and quiet, tugging on my pants mama, I need some of that roll. As I continued to field and jot down ideas, encouraging and laughing and writing, and please be quiet, sweetie, we aren’t having those rolls until later, and then her hands found their way to my pockets, yanking and tugging more firmly and scaling me, and her voice rose i’m HUNGAAARY and need it now!!!! SHHHH NOT RIGHT NOW.

Anyone who has a three year old, or who has nannied or babysat regularly for one may know how this goes. Anyone who has a younger, less ferocious child, was watching me with their mouths slightly agog. Just as I used to be (maybe they were more kind? we can only hope?): How can she A-L-L-O-W her daughter to act that way?? Clearly, the kid has no discipline and is pretty out of control. Please don’t come do that at my house. And can’t Nell do anything about this?

5) Before the ladies had really finished doing a brain dump with me, she had finished her short tight rope walk of feigned patience and was outright screeching in my face while pounding her hands on my chest:






Finally, with that last threat, she landed on a winner that she knew I couldn’t dodge. The ultimate need that will make a mom move.

I smiled broadly to the dozen+ ladies in front of me and noted that one of our topics could be how humbling it is to be a mother, and how we really end up losing ourselves (maybe I said something about losing dignity?). I can’t fully recall because my ears were ringing at her full body volume.

6) So ladies, if you need a dose of humility, just take your three year old along when your attention and her stomach are taking divergent paths through the bush. If you don’t have this personality in your child, if you don’t have a child this age, please trust me when I say it’s a blessing//curse and I hope you understand someday why there is no real recourse but removal!

When we returned from the alleged potty need (false alarm? faux alarm?), the toddler had discovered our absence and refused comfort from one of his favorite friends (Tia SheaShea!) who was there. His screams echoed through the whole church basement. Two kids with healthy lungs!

The rest of the meeting was filled with cinnamon rolls, our pastor’s words of wisdom, and good cheer and companionship had by all.

7) I couldn’t help but feel a little chagrined as I hoisted my cardboard box to the car filled with the coffee maker, the leftover plates & napkins–as much as I value authenticity and being real about where we are in life, mostly I’m writing about that from the safe confines of my pantry or bathroom on my Facebook wall while the kids misbehave and wail outside hearing of my electronic audience.

Being trapped and unable to coerce, bribe, discipline, or perform any behavioral modification technique is so disquieting.

All-in-all, it was a humbling reminder that we can do all the work we want to as a parent, but our kids are still going to act as irrational little beings and act out their feelings. It may mean I appear to be an ineffective parent or my child a brat,

but this is R E A L life with small kids, in real time. The stuff I’m always writing about. And I wasn’t that embarrassed because I am finally taking my own advice and calming the heck down and not personalizing my child’s every move. Or in this case, every screech.

whole parenting goods cap

my fall caps line is staying around for another month or so . . . heavy organic cotton flannel lined, if you like! linking up with Kelly and the most interesting writers around for 7 quick takes!


  1. Bethany on September 18, 2015 at 7:25 am

    It’s so timely that you should post this! The other day I was writing about a rather public display of toddler rage I weathered at the store (and my son gave himself a shiner at the playground a few days before , which really made me hesitate to scold him even though we don’t use corporal punishment ). There are so many lessons in humility in motherhood…

    • Natural Mama Nell on September 18, 2015 at 7:53 pm

      So so so so so many 🙂 Thank you for being here!

  2. Michele on October 4, 2015 at 9:26 am

    Ohhhh I didn’t used to understand this…then I met my second born. God must have known I needed to take a humble pill. #allthescreaming

    • Natural Mama Nell on October 4, 2015 at 9:07 pm

      Oh. My. Gosh. YES!