Every day the wonderful happens…

and I'm here to blog about it.

At the Playground March 12, 2011

Filed under: everyday life,mommy brain — Elizabeth @ 3:06 PM

Yesterday afternoon, after we went to enroll Isaac for karate (more on that later!) I took the boys to a nearby playground.  We normally spend time at this playground in the mornings or on the weekends, and the afternoon crowd was very different.  First of all there was a crowd, which we aren’t used to.

The playground was crawling with kids and there was an entire picnic table full of moms chatting and laughing.  I actually thought there was some kind of neighborhood association thing going on.  They had large mixing bowls full of snacks and seemed like they knew each other really well–maybe they meet there every Friday afternoon.  Every once in a while, they would holler to their older children (most were around Isaac’s age) and make sure the older kids were looking after the younger kids.  Every once in a while they would scream, “Garrett, where are you?……WHERE ARE YOU?!?!!?” (my heart always seizes up when I hear a mom calling for her kids like this) and then finally the kid would emerge from the woods.  The moms were eating chips and laughing and their kids were happily playing on their own.  I felt a pang of jealousy.

When I’m at the playground with the boys they always want me to push them on the swings, chase them, drive them in the pretend car (to Disney World!  to China!), be a robot–NO, I’m the robot, no wait–PIRATES, and then we’ll play hide and seek.  You get the picture.  It’s not that they can’t play alone or with other children.  They can and they do, but no matter how many kids are around, they want me TOO.  And for the most part, I oblige them.

Believe me, I am not tooting my own horn here.  Put away your mother-of-the year awards.  There are so many times when I am home with the boys and I am just not “present”.  I’m on the computer too much, I read blogs at the breakfast table, I just want to vacuum, for pete’s sake.  I honestly would rather clean my house than play with my children.  I don’t ignore my kids at home, but I could do a lot better.

So the thing is, when we go somewhere, I’m all in.  At the science museum, at the library, storytime, the playground.  Let’s do this.  It’s one reason I flat out refuse to have a cell phone that has internet (go ahead and laugh–I have a Motorola Razr).  I waste enough time on that kind of stuff at home.  I want to be present with them when we’re out and about.  I enjoy it, and they deserve it.

Please, also don’t read into this that I am slamming the other moms hanging out at the picnic table.  For all I know, they spend all day doing one on one crafts with their kids at home (gag me with a spoon) and making organic baby food.  The fact is, I was envying their nerve to leave a 4 year old in charge of a toddler.  I was wondering what their secret was that they could call for their child twice and not need immediate CPR when they didn’t get an answer.  I even wondered if I was doing my kids a disservice by playing with them so much and not saying, Look, go figure it out.  You’re a kid!  I was quite jealous of all the laughter and the regular-ness of it all…..not to mention the snacks.

As I pushed the boys on their swings, as I “drove” us to Disney World, as I played chase trying valiantly not to pee my pants, I watched the moms wistfully.

Then Isaac wanted to be a robot and he was chasing Matthew and me (Matthew has an aversion to any game that involves me running FROM him or them, so I have to carry him with me during any hide and seek/chase games).  I would run, with my almost-4 year old in my arms, up the ramps of the play structure, over the bridge, to the very top where the spiral slide was and then down we would all come, in a noisy, red-faced heap.

As I repeatedly made these rounds, and slid down the spiral slide with one boy in my arms and one boy on my back, both of them squealing and laughing and screaming with joy, I found that I just wanted to burn this moment in my brain.  In my head I kept thinking, remember this feeling, their laughter, all of this love, the sunshine, the sheer perfection of your life.  Memorize it now.

And finally I realized–I didn’t belong at that picnic table.  I was right where I wanted to be all along.

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10 Responses to “At the Playground”

  1. So beautifully said.
    You and I are VERY (scarily so) similar creatures. Our philosophies on children are so similar. When we’re out, it’s ALL about them for us. And when we’re home, I have to tear myself away from my laptop, and I’m always so embarrassed by that, even though there’s no one around to see it. Except Adam, who gives me plenty of grief for it. There’s just so much around the house that’s vying for our attention. When we’re out, there’s nothing to do. And I *do* have one of those fancy internet phones!
    Not really sure what my point is, except that I understand. Right there with ya, sister.

  2. Aunt JoAnn Says:

    You always make me think a lot about your entries. This one is quite a good one to ponder. I too would want to be at that table w/other moms eating chips. I would. But then when I hear they are yelling for the kids, and having older ones be responsible for younger ones, I get nervous in my belly. There has to be another happy medium. Has to be. I think it’s a great idea to have a group like that, but maybe take turns checking on the kids. Something! You are a such a great mom Elizabeth, and I wish for you a play group with your friends cause that is so fun too. Being with a few other moms and kids is a good experience for everybody. Thanks for sharing the tough stuff!
    Aunt JoAnn

  3. Kristen Says:

    I’m so w/you on this one. I too would rather clean (or fold laundry or pluck my eyebrows or pay bills or pretty much anything else) than play w/the kids at home. Seriously, it just gets so B.O.R.I.N.G. Which is why I try to go at least one place every day and when I go to that one place, it is all about them. Occassionally, they are okay playing w/o me and then I happily take a seat and relax, but usually they want me to be part of whatever they are doing. And I’m okay w/that, though in the summer I do look enviously at the moms at our local splashpad who are lounging in the sun w/a book while I run through the freezing cold hippo sprinkler and try to keep my thighs from shaking too much.

    On a separate note, I don’t know how some moms are okay w/their little kids (6 and under) playing unsupervised in a public place. Not judging them, but I just can’t do it. Even the rare times the boys are willing to play by themselves somewhere, I’m always completely focused on them b/c all I can picture are kidnappers & serious injuries just waiting for me to look away.

  4. Lori Says:

    Oh, wow, I totally would have asked the older kid if he would mind watching Jack for me… 🙂 Just kidding, but I would have been tempted! I think it’s great that you focus on your kids and playing with them when you guys are out and about – I think that’s pretty rare and they will always remember the fun they had in these days before everyone is completely tied down to a “schedule” all the time!

  5. Grace Says:

    good stuff. and a very good listen for this new mom who’s still trying to figure out this bizarre place called mommy world. i swear, it should come with a pamphlet and a map!

  6. Yvonne Says:

    awesome reminder.

    and I’m coming to the same realization that I interact more with my kids when we are out and about doing fun things together. At home – there are lots of distractions and to-do lists. But I’m working on being more present at home too. But for the record, I have a very simple phone that I rarely use. And I know that if I had internet on my phone, I would be using it a lot!

  7. anymommy Says:

    This is gorgeous and perfect. We all have to find our own balance. (I have an ancient pay as you go phone for exactly the same reason.)

  8. Joanna Says:

    And this is yet another reason why I love you and your blog. I TRY to be present at home, but it’s hard. I have to physically take down a toy that inspires me, turn off the tv/radio whatever and focus. It’s a chore sometimes. And I’ve seen those women and the park and thought the same thing. How can they just sit and chat and barely even look at their kids? I wish I could let go like that, but it ain’t happening.

  9. Michelle Says:

    great thoughts! I often find myself in the same place emotionally too. In the end, I think it’s us, the parents who create that world, and our kids act according to how we want them to act—either obviously, or not. I often look at other kids and ask myself, why doesn’t my kid do that? Well, that’s not the world we’ve created for our children, and I have to be OK with that 🙂 So, I’m off to take a deep breath, get Michael off the chair, and from playing with the toaster while I read blogs, and go play trains for the millionth time this month. 🙂

  10. Sue Says:

    oh…you so just made me cry happy tears!!
    there is no way on this earth that i could be one of those moms at the picnic table. me…leave drew to watch over leo at the playground…no way!!
    thank you for reminding me to soak in every moment of hide-n-seek and crazy made up game of follow-the-leader through the play-scape that drew dreams up…or endless games of hockey, soccer, baseball and basketball i am fortunate enough to be able to play with my boys. these moments are numbered. keep soaking them in with your boys!!!


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