Dear Mom at the park,
Yeah, you- on your cell phone, or your nose in a book.
I used to judge you. I used to sneer at you and applaud myself for being more present with my child. I couldn’t comprehend the fact that you weren’t down in the sand digging with your toddler or helping them up the stairs to the slide. Pushing them on the swings for the thousandth time or holding them up on the monkeybars.
Because now I’m with you.
I have a 4 year old that is now independent enough to navigate even the toughest of slides and FINALLY able to propel the swing forward on his own. I don’t need to watch him every. single. second. I can sit on a bench and enjoy a WARM (still not hot) cup of coffee without having to jump up every 2 seconds and chase him around. I occasionally have to kiss a skinned knee or tell him he’s doing a good job. But, the park is finally a break instead of work!
Now I occasionally pull out my phone and check emails, return messages, and yes- even scroll through Instagram. And yes, I see you Mom in the corner, pushing her littles on the swings, mouth slightly agape watching me not watching my toddler. But, as we all know, mothers are great multi-taskers, and I know what he’s doing the entire time.
It’s funny how the different stages of parenting change our perspective. I was once a judgmental Mom, and now I am way more laid back. I couldn’t care less if my son’s hair is messy, he has macaroni and cheese spilled on his shirt, or even (GASP) sometimes has shoes on the wrong feet. It happens, and we’re doing the best we can.
It’s a small reminder not to judge the Mom in yoga pants and unbrushed teeth in line at the grocery store, I too have been up all night with a colicky infant and barely been able to hold it together the next day. Or the Momma of the screaming child in the food court at the mall- terrible 2’s anyone? The Mommy buying wine at 10 in the morning? I SO get it.
Parenting is hard. And sometimes our kids drive us crazy- I’m not going to lie, sometimes my son’s screeches literally make my ears feel like they’re going to bleed. So, if your kids are able to navigate the park alone, do take some time for yourself! Grab a cup of coffee, crack open that book that has been on your nightstand for months. Or just sit and enjoy nature. And if you choose to scroll through your phone and check out for a moment. I won’t judge you. I may even sit beside you in silence and solidarity.