I was in Target today picking up a few things.

As I walked around the store, alone, I witnessed several kids having meltdowns.

I remember that time well. When the kids were little, I had to carefully plan my trips to the store.

In between bottles, before or after their nap, and when I was nursing — that was another feat.

I was never one to be comfortable nursing in public. It was always something I felt was easier to do in the comfort of my own home (or a friend’s home). But to each their own, I never judged a mom who was able to do it in front of others.

I was really just jealous of their mom skills.

As I walked the aisles of the stores, I could hear children screaming.

It reminded me of the many times when I told my child they were not going to be getting a new toy or whatever it was they “thought” they would get because we were in Target. As I passed one mom in a toy aisle, I watched her son go limp in her arms as she tried to put him back in the cart. He was about 2 or 3 or years old.

Old enough to know the freedom outside of the cart but not quite old enough to communicate it and stay close enough to not stress his mom out. He might have been “a runner” as my husband and I called them.

You know those kids who taste freedom and take off in any direction, just to get away and see the world, if only to get about 15 feet and get snatched back up and put in the cart. 

Anyone who has raised children, remembers the arching of the back when a child doesn’t want to be put into a stroller or shopping cart. Immediately the child’s body becomes stiff as a board and you feel like all eyes are watching as you try to carefully bend the child’s knees to slip them into place.

One hand is on the child while the other is trying to grab the plastic locking mechanism. Oh yes, we all remember the struggle. We all remember feeling like at any moment someone from child services was going to pop around the corner to take our child from us, even though we were just trying to keep our child safe.

The best part of having a baby or toddler is the diaper bag. When I had my first child, our diaper bag weighed about 15 lbs. I had to have several outfits, wipes, pacifiers (several in case one hit the ground), small toys, rattles, diapers, bottles, formula can (once I was done nursing), nail trimmers, changing pad, and everything else I might possibly need for a two-hour trip outside of our home.

It was like an episode of “Let’s Make A Deal.” I never knew when Monty Hall might approach me and offer me money to pull some strange object from my diaper bag, so I was ready.

By the time the third child came along, I was pretty good with a couple of wipes and a diaper. I remember going into a corn maze with my youngest and realizing I left the diaper bag in the car. Oops, parenting fail.

Now I don’t think about those times as the struggle they were when I was living them. I look back and wish I could do it again.

Fast forward 10-20 years. I go to the store alone now, at least most of the time.

I am envious of the moms with little sleeping babies, wishing I had the snuggles and could sniff the clean little scalp of a newborn baby. They always smell like bubbles. Ahh.

But then I turn the corner of another aisle in Target and witness a child of about 6 or 7 slap her mother and scream in her face. I’m snapped back into reality.

Yup, all set. I’ll enjoy my kids at their current ages and enjoy even more my childless trips to the store.

It’s all about perspective.

Jennifer Lague writes from Derry. 

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