Who Knew a Library Trip Could Cause So Much Parenting Stress?

For two weeks now, I’ve really wanted to go to toddler time at the library.  I don’t have much in terms of real life mommy friends, and we only know one other couple with kids around Norton’s age.  I’m pretty introverted, so I’m perfectly happy to skip doing social things.  But Norton needs to go.  He needs to be around other kids, and so forth.  Yesterday things worked out and we finally got to go.  I anticipated songs and “dancing.”  I did not anticipate untold amounts of parenting stress, parenting stress brought on by trying to wrangle my kid.

A few times, trying to manage Norton got to be too much during that thirty minute toddler time. We almost left, but each time the activity would change and he’d be cooperative. I’m not sure that he knew what to make of the singing and such; I don’t really sing at home because apparently my singing is offensive to my kid. He screams at me if I sing while I clean the house. But we survived. And once it was over, I felt a surge of relief. I wasn’t sure if we were going to ever do this again, in spite of the fact that I knew darned well that we should. Besides, it would get better with practice, right?

We left toddler time and I tried to return the books we checked out last week into the book drop. It took longer than you might think since Norton kept trying to take off. I ended up holding a squirming little boy in my arms when I tried to get the books in the book drop. I carried him upstairs to the level with the “grown up” books to see if I could quickly find some natural childbirth method books. When I put him down so that I could look up the call number, he took off.


All I wanted was to find was just one book to help me figure out the differences between the birth methods out there.  That’s it.  Just one book.  I didn’t want to spend the day leisurely browsing through the library.  And even if I did, I know that it’s not possible with a toddler in tow.  I’m nothing if not realistic.

The computer catalog was slow as molasses (or maybe it just seemed that way because I was trying to get Norton to come back without raising my voice).  I got down on one knee and opened my arms, so he came running back to me to throw himself into my awaiting arms.  When he got to me, the results were in, and I knew the section I wanted to go.  I could relax.  We were almost done.

And then I felt my parenting stress levels rise once more as he took off.  I could not manage my toddler’s behavior.  If he could just hold it together for a few more minutes….

Finally, I caught up to him in the foreign language books.  I was getting angry.  I held his arm since Norton is too little to hold hands and won’t do it, and marched him over to the right section to find my book.  Once we were on the aisle, he tried to wrench his arm free.  I felt a pop as he hurled himself to the ground and began screaming uncontrollably.

It didn’t even occur to me that we were dealing with a toddler injury at this point.  I figured he’s my kid, so that means that things will pop just like they popped with my mother and still do with me.  All that I knew was that I had to get him out of there.  I was embarrassed as all eyes stared at the idiot mother who can’t manage her kid.  I was beyond embarrassed; I was mortified and humiliated to realize that I had become “that mom.”  I tried to muffle his screams somewhat (without actually limiting his ability to breathe) as I carried him out.

Needless to say, we didn’t get any books.

And Norton?  Well, he was going straight to bed for a nap when we got home.  I’d had it.  We’d gone beyond parenting stress at this point; my nerves were completely shot.  The screaming only stopped for brief intervals on the way home.

And I’d decided that I was just going to have to buy or check out books on my Kobo rather than ever return to the library.

About Suzi

Suzi is an American ex-pat living in British Columbia. She's a cloth diaper addict, wife, mom of three, and President of the Prince George chapter of Cloth for a Cause.


  1. I am so sorry this excursion was a bust! I try to take my Bean to the Library twice a week and sometimes it is ok, most times I end up chasing her and praying that she will just sit quietly for two minutes! The only thing that gets me through is looking around the room and seeing other moms also praying for a miracle two minutes of good behavior! I have accepted that i will be known as “that mom” to the other library visitors that are not there with a toddler and I am fine with that!! You are certainly not alone in feeling frazzled! On Friday I got us dressed, out the door and actually drove across town and into the parking lot. I circled the parking lot three times and drove home because I just did not have it in me. Some days it happens, some days…not so much!

  2. That is a fairly common injury for children. My son “jerked” away from my husband once and my husband didn’t let go and the end result was basically a dislocated elbow. It’s a simple fix– no casts/surgeries, etc., just a doc putting it back into place– but, that doesn’t make it any less frightening or traumatic… for the parents. The kids always bounce back with no infinite, mental scarring… I promise!


  1. […] we got home from our disaster trip to the library, I put Norton to bed to try to decompress.  I had a doctor’s appointment in the afternoon […]

  2. […] seriously sucked.  First we had our library trip of d00m, which is when our toddler injury occurred.  Then we got Norton checked out during my […]

  3. […] be too lazy to watch my kid or something, allow me to remind you of a little story.  Last month, Norton tried to take off in the library.  I was holding his hand.  He got hurt.  And we ended up spending hours in the hospital getting […]

  4. […] doing a job and holding staff meetings and being social and talking to other parents.  I found toddler time at the library to be enough to make me an overwhelmed mom.  Of course, I may not have found it to be so traumatic […]

  5. […] hide in a corner.  If I were a better mom, I’d have been able to do something as simple as toddler time at the library without taking my kid to the […]

  6. […] mom.  I’ve had a hard time taking Norton out places on my own.  That one fail fall at the library didn’t help.  It just made me more worried that I couldn’t do it right.  I was […]

  7. […] know the cause of my parenting fears.  The last time we attempted toddler time at the library, it wasn’t all that pretty.  Norton tried to run away from me in the stacks.  Norton hurt […]

  8. […] him.  I hadn’t tried holding hands with him for anything that was required since he’d wrenched his arm at the library  and we ended up spending hours on end at the hospital.  Now I have a little boy that I can hold […]

  9. […] was worried for a while.  I thought that this might never happen, particularly after the library incident.  Now?  Norton is crazy about books.  Not all books.  As much as Norton’s big brother loved […]

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