|At the park, 2005|
In Oklahoma, parks mean windy days, sometimes intense heat. It's hard to know what to expect, weather-wise.
When my kids were little, I would go to the park with a group of other moms and kids. We would travel in packs like a pride of lions--proud females with our offspring, a caravan of suburban nomads packed heavily with our sippy cups, diapers, wipes, bug spray, sunscreen, band-aids, graham crackers and grapes--always cut in half.
|Checking out the lay of the land at Veteran's |
Park in Moore, 2007.
|Brand Park in Moore, 2006|
We encouraged our kids to explore in their own junior packs, to let us have our time of rest, where we would inevitably talk about our kids and how to do things more easily, more interestingly. This was Pinterest before Pinterest existed, a clutch of moms gathered at the edges of the wood chips at your neighborhood playground.
|The moms seemed much more interesting. |
Brand Park in Moore, 2003.
|Swings, June 2006.|
No matter our intentions, our lineup on the splintery benches or wind-blown blankets would rotate as we ran interference on our kids, delivering sippy cups and kisses to scraped knees and elbows, ruffling sweaty, sun-soaked heads, helping too-small legs find the way to swing higher... but not too high. The air was filled with the sighs of mothers left with unfulfilled promises of a moment to ourselves. We all just longed for a few minutes on the bench with other adults while our kids played without fighting, without feeling the need to jettison the climbing equipment and the promise of adventure to come in favor of my lap, where they would tell me they were bored / tired / hungry / thirsty / too hot / too cold / needed to go potty / and so on.
| "I picked these for you, Mama."|
|Cheese! June 2009|
Someday... someday we'd be able to sit and talk for five minutes while our kids enjoyed the park like, well, kids should.
|"I do it," Brand Park in Moore, 2003|
|Splash pad, 2008|
Fast forward to someday. We still go to the park, but I know our visits won't go on much longer as my kids march toward maturity. Instead of being our thoughtfully planned out and well-equipped destination, the park has become that place we stop on our way to or from somewhere else. My now-fearless kids take off as soon as their rubber soles slap the cement path leading to the woodchip filled (or, increasingly, rubber-matted) clearing where the equipment exists.
|Soaking up the sunshine at Lake Hefner, 2014|
I no longer travel in the pack, though I see them there, warily eyeballing my older kids as they maneuver around the new generation of cubs. My kids seek adventure, pulling every possible drop of fun out of each piece of equipment. They swing too high and squeal with enjoyment like I had hoped they would do.
|Just hold still for a sec so I can get a picture of you two, okay?|
I want to remember this moment when you still would.
Lake Hefner, 2014
I walk laps around the playground or finally, take a few minutes to chill out, alone and unbothered, on the bench.
|That empty bench doesn't seem so enticing any more.|
And I have to say, it's not all I thought it would be. Until, of course, my kids run up, full of fresh air, damp-haired and smelling of sunshine.