It’s that time of year when the park I raised my kids in, gets a new crop of babies and toddlers and pulls me back to decades ago, a time I can feel just as easily as I can feel the hair on top of my head at this moment (which only a week out, is already showing my fucking gray roots).
I walk my dog in that same park that was the site of so much of my family’s history. Without large yards, we all flocked to the park for space, camaraderie, birthday parties and adult conversations.
I scan the new crop. There are mamas that glow with pride as they carefully watch their children stiff legged toddle in the sandbox learning to share, throw sand, navigate the world beyond their cribs. There are tentative moms with worried looks and jaded mothers on their phones, who seem like they could care less, as their kids dart around the playground equipment like shooting stars.
What I see now, is how impatient I felt back then (this has always plagued me). How nervous I was to lose my place in the world while I was taking care of a young family. I search for myself in those moms and realize that the ones I gravitate toward are those who gently allow their children to be, those who seem to be perfectly present.
Age offers insights. And sometimes they’re not pleasant. My mommying lacked patience. There it is. Deep in the messiness and sleepless nights of parenthood, I thought having young kids would never end. I took on the mantle as if I would have it forever. But of course, nothing lasts forever and soon, my kids were older, more independent, allowing me to have a little of that, too. But hindsight asks what had I missed out on? What had my impatience prevented me from experiencing? And most importantly, what effect did it have on my kids?
I want to tell those overwhelmed doppelgangers to slow it on down, to stop worrying about losing their careers and to try their damndest to be in that park with those kids. But they won’t be able to listen, just as I couldn’t hear a thing back then, except for my own voice in my own head wondering when I could go to sleep. Gratitude for the ability to see yourself with clarity as you stack up the years. It makes you boldly face the pain of not having done better, but allows you to do better now.