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My daughter, Lyla, turns 2 in about a week. Today, getting an early start, she decided to showcase her terrible 2s in Target. She had clearly been practicing!

In case you missed it, she was the one who wiggled out of her restraints, climbed out of the cart, tore off her diaper, then ran up and down the aisles screaming and giggling devilishly as she removed random items from the shelves and tossed them into our cart faster than a contestant on the retro game show Supermarket Sweep.

My husband was at home recovering from nightshift so I was flying solo. It was toddler verse Mommy. Sadly, I couldn’t compete. I could hardly even keep up.

By the time we made it to checkout, I was sweating, dizzy, unsure of what I was buying or where I was and desperately in need of both a bottled water and a nap! Lyla was ready for Round 2. When we finally made it home (thankfully the little demon slept in the car), I put her down in her crib, carried in every last bag of groceries by myself, then when my husband woke up I told him all about the traumatic ordeal. His response was, “You can’t let her get away with that.”

Hmm… that didn’t help. It didn’t help me and it most certainly didn’t help him.

Before I go on, let me reiterate the fact that I love my husband and our daughter very, very much. My husband is a wonderful father and partner. He happily works his ass off for our family. Our daughter is the perfect combination of me and him. She gets the good and the not-so-good from us both (pretty much) equally. Now that we’re clear on that, let me also state for the record that they are both Leos. I’m not sure this fact has any true bearing on my situation or any other for that matter, but I sometimes blame astrology when I don’t want to flat out blame a person. It’s a defense mechanism.

As a Scorpio, while I am astrologically compatible in many ways with Leos, I have read that there will be times when they will, without even trying, drive me to the brink of insanity. Well, I was there and back today.

Now back to my rant…

What would my husband have done differently? When I asked him that question, he gave me no answer. I would have loved to see how he would have handled our “little situation” at Target. For that matter, I’d love to see him do all of the things I do on a regular basis. In addition to writing, I am a stay at home mom. I change at least 90% of the diapers, clean up at least 90% of the messes and kiss at least 90% of the boo-boos. Everything I do and everywhere I go, there is a toddler at my hip. I write while my husband works and while my daughter sleeps, both during her naps and through the night. I get an awful lot done in minimal time. I take zero breaks and I get very little sleep.

Like most moms out there, I do what I do with little assistance or acknowledgment. When my family or friends are struggling, I stop what I’m doing to listen and to love. When I’m struggling, I push myself harder. Most times, I don’t have time to complain and besides it usually doesn’t help.

While I try not to criticize those whom I love (I said try not to), I seldom get the same courtesy in return. I try to extract positive feedback and constructive criticism, both professionally and personally because those things, while sometimes painful, help us to learn and grow. I try my best not to take too much of it personally and ignore the negativity. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always work. Like now, for example.

It is challenging enough to take a toddler shopping by myself. And that, by the way, is something I get to do all the time. I wave and smile to the other moms (or stay at home dads – of which there are many!) as I pass them in the supermarket, as our children pretend to drive the big plastic car attached to our shopping cart while we do the pushing and steering. We are kindred spirits.

I often help other parents when their sons or daughters drop their sippy cups for the 100th time, lunge from their arms in the frozen food section, scream for a cookie or a lollipop or a Dora snack or when they have a complete and total meltdown during checkout (or anyplace else for that matter). I like to think that they would help me too and sometimes they do.

My daughter turns 2 next week.

If you were considering criticizing my parenting skills, voicing your opinion on potty training, reading, haircuts, juice consumption, bedtime etiquette or any other similar topic, this is probably not the right time.

If you see me or another parent struggling, please don’t hesitate to help us. For the record, pointing, whispering and staring do not help. Being critical or judgmental isn’t a bit helpful either. And those snide comments… well, I’ll be happy to suggest a place where you can put those.

The terrible 2s are upon us, my friends. What happened today in Target was just the beginning. I’ve heard horror stories from other parents about what to expect next and I’m not going to lie, I’m more than just a little scared!

If you really want to help me, offer to babysit.

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