I’ve come to develop a love – hate relationship with the park. I love it because it gets us out of the house to do something fun together. It’s perfect for getting in some great therapy. And it lets us practice social skills in brief increments..waiting for a turn on the slide, saying hello, then off to the next thing. Like everyone else.
I hate it because, well, I feel alone.
I watch the moms sitting and talking, cup of coffee in hand, and I want to be there. Of course, they’re still watching their kids, still often interrupted. And they’ve put in their time of chasing toddlers down slides. But I have too…and I’m still there. I stay close so she can be brave. I watch for the inevitable clumsiness that creeps in when too many things are vying for her body’s attention. I watch to make sure she doesn’t accidentally hurt the new friend she’s so desperately trying to engage. When it’s time to go, she needs my arms because the walk is too far for a body that worked that hard. I love to hold her, but carrying a nearly-4-year-old too exhausted to hold on isn’t easy. And then home we go. Where I’m torn between the guilt of being ungrateful for all she can do and the heartache of knowing what she can’t.
But you know what happened recently? We went with a group to play. And, without my asking (or even thinking to ask) my friend chose to stay beside me while I chased my daughter. Her kids are old enough. She could have been one of the rest of the group. A mom enjoying a very deserved few minutes to sit down. But she walked with me instead. And it was one more day where I realized I’m not alone after all.