shutterstock_91669052__1393857871_142.196.167.223My first child is three-years-old. I thought for sure by now I would have “the look” down. I thought I would be able to control his little 35-pound butt. Nope.

He’s not terrible – he’s a three-year-old. He’s all about instant gratification and he basically just wants to do whatever he wants at all times. If I wanted to raise a monster – I could just let him go about on his merry way, giving into every inane request he has. Unfortunately, I really feel like it’s my responsibility to do my best to not unleash a selfish, screaming, Tazmanian devil into the world. These are trying times.

It’s not that he acts out all day; he’s really great about 75 percent of the time. It’s that 25 percent that is the killer. All I can do is hope that it happens when we are in the privacy of our own home. When it happens in public – it’s the worst. I’m pretty sure I have my karma child because of the way I used to look down the end of my nose at women who had unruly toddlers. Life is fair like that – if you are a smug asshole about anything, it usually comes back at you three-fold.

Now, I’m not one of those mothers that let’s my child act out and doesn’t fully immerse herself in trying to stop it. If we’re in a restaurant, I make a quick exit. If we’re on a plane, I order another drink try my best to talk him down. But there is a situation where I refuse to back down; I am not leaving a fully stocked cart in Target because my child is having a melt down. Not doing it. Do you know how hard it is to get an infant and a toddler to Target and reach things on the low shelves with a child strapped to your chest and one pulling at everything in arm’s reach in the cart? It’s like the suburban version of American Gladiators. If I have spent the better part of an hour doing that, I am not surrendering to anyone.

Because I have finally found my boundaries – the line that you cannot push me over, I am starting to understand all of those moms at Target I used to chuckle at. I distinctly remember laughing at the parents I overheard saying things like, “Mommy doesn’t like it when you hit her.” I’d be thinking “Ha! Great parenting, lady! You sound ridiculous.” Now I get it. You say stupid things like that hoping to lock eyes with your child long enough to transmit the subliminal “I will kill you” message. It rarely works. Your kid knows you’re a sucker.

What about the mom who has finally just lost it? She doesn’t even care who hears her or is watching anymore. She’s all wild-eyed and doing the whisper-scream thing. I always thought those mothers needed anger management or something. Ha! I’ve just defaulted to being that woman. Judge me all you want. I’m not mouthing passive-aggressive niceties to a tyrant toddler hoping he’ll spare me the embarrassment of showing how really fucking hard parenting can be.

I’m sorry to all the crazy screaming moms in Target I’ve judged in the past. I now join your ranks.

(photo: Everett Collection/ Shutterstock)