To the random man in the Target parking lot,


I am not sorry, although every fiber in me screams that I must be ashamed, or paranoid that I did something wrong.

I ran into Target with three of my four kids in tow to do a simple return. From start to finish, the trip lasted twenty minutes.

Twenty minutes doesn’t sound that long to most, until you tell them they will be spending that twenty minutes waiting in line at customer service with three kids under seven years of age.

That is a life sentence.

Mostly, I’d rather keep the shirt that won’t button or to be dramatic, claw my own arm off—I saw it done in 127 hours. I’d do it over volunteering to stand in line with all the beauties while I rinse and repeat distracting methods, entertainment schemes with the intent to extinguish sibling fires.

On this day, who knows what I was thinking? (Apparently, I really wanted the large instead of the medium shirt.) Or I must have drank the brave juice and committed to the lie that I am Superwoman!

While in line, Adalynne and her sidekick Amelia had reached the end of their “we love each other” fuses. They are seven and four, not robots programmed to sit still, I get that, but usually for my girls we can run and go without too much stress.

But that wasn’t today. Not even close.

The soundtrack was worse than the worst heavy metal you’ve heard in your life. (RAHH, RAHHHHHHHHHH insert maniac drum playing–by someone who doesn’t even know how to play drums–here)

“Mom! Amelia’s touching me. Amelia quit touching me! She’s looking at me! Move over, I was standing there. I GO! I WALK! Mom, MOOOOM! Adalynne poked me. I did not. You lied. Mom, she lied. No…NO MOM I DIDN’T. I GO!!!” Exhausting, huh? Need an aspirin, too?

All moms are familiar with the routine, the drill that starts out as playful banter between siblings then quickly escalates into horseplay and (we should all be psychics) eventually someone ends up hurt and in tears.

Happens every dang time.

That skit ends with me pulling out my stern mom voice in a dialogue that follows as such: “calm down, don’t fight, no ma’am, make good choices, say you’re sorry…”, while I secretly threaten, whispering through gritted teeth, “you. wait. till. we. get. to. the. car.”

That’s what happened on repeat the entire twenty minutes we were in Target.

Worse, Anabella, my two-year old, was trying sky dive off the cart. “I GO!” She demanded, while we waited in line. I get her logic. Normally, when we go to a store the cart moves, but in this case it was an island and all three of the girls were unhappy, stranded survivors plagued with delusions and paranoia towards one another. And my patience was literally a ticking time bomb.

As bad as it got? Nope, we weren’t there yet.

Nearing the end of our return at customer service (Praise Jesus), the trip reached a whole other level…straight ANARCHY.

Amelia fell over Adalynne and tumbled to the bottom of the cart. Amelia screamed like her leg had been cut off with a jagged saw, and Adalynne laughed—like any loving sister would do–and Bella screamed even louder “I GO,” while trying to head dive out of the cart. And in the midst of it all, my eyes twitched and I nearly sinked down into the floor and cried—The Ugly Cry, while yelling, “I GIVE UP! DAMMIT!”

Finally, I got my receipt back, and high tailed it out of there with three unhappy campers. Frozen yogurt was no longer on the menu and Adalynne was MAD. She ran straight out in the parking lot.  Praise God there was no oncoming parking lot traffic, because her little legs and big temper outran me to the car.  There I was running after her with Anabella on my hip and Amelia being drug behind me.

And of course, I was screaming too. The entire parking lot heard an angry rendering of ‘ADALYNNE GRACE, YOU STOP THIS MINUTE!!!!!!!!’ Yep, it’s a classic.

After latching onto Adalynne, who’s life’s mission was to wiggle free of my iron grasp, putting Amelia and Anabella in their seats one handed and shutting the door, this angry, scared, and tired mom got down on my knees and pulled Adalynne’s face as close to mine as possible and berated her for her choices.

“Do not ever run from me again! Do not ever run in a parking lot! Tell me why we don’t run in a parking lot right now! And finally…YOU SCARED ME!” and then I spanked her, twice. And it wasn’t pretty. I happened to look up and there he was staring at me…random man in the Target parking lot.

I know that I should not be afraid of disciplining my children, I have every right to. I am their parent. I should not feel regret when I spank them for a negative action that could have stolen their life.

Yet, as he looked at me I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was in the wrong?  Let me include here that not every negative action my children commit means spanking…timeout and privilege loss is our go-tos, but this…this action (blatantly running away in a busy parking lot) wasn’t in the normal realm.  In a misbehaving world, it was at the peak of Everest and Adalynne had staked her claim, twirling in ballerina fashion on the point.

Have I read too many of those headlines on parenting, “why not to spank your child, or if you still spank your child you’re a caveman and their psyche will be permanently ruined.” Is that where my guilt stems from as this man stared down at me? I’m not mocking, but seriously?

After I broke eye contact with him, got into my suburban and cried, I knew that I was not wrong.

I love my girls.

I’ve devoted my life to them.

I will not fail them and part of that journey means that times like these will happen.  It will not be pretty, nor happy, but I know that I will do my best to raise my children with discipline derived from love so that they may respect themselves and others.

Even is this means…

I am a cavewoman who spanks.


Originally posted 2015

Author: Sarah Black

I'm a self-professed 'Drama Mama'...of four daughters, I blog to (over)share my stories on learning to maintain my sanity by strictly eating laughter in the emotional land of motherhood while trying to keep my husband from running away from the sheer amount of estrogen flooding our house.

4 thoughts on “To the random man in the Target parking lot,”

  1. Bless your heart! Mommy-hood is not easy, and I’ll bet the parking lot guy had no idea what his wife went through with his children! Bet there haven’t been too many more parking lot chases since that. Love you, Sweetie!

    1. No more parking lot chases, now she runs to the end of the aisle and throws a fit. Ugh, the struggle. We will survive, by God’s grace–we’re going to do it! Love you, too!

  2. Sounds like my Target trips with the 2 kiddos. Sometimes, I want to crawl into a cave and order everything online. If a return needs to happen, schedule a pickup. But, then I would get really pale and become sensitive to the sun.

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