It's December, which means it's officially cold outside. Yesterday it was 72 degrees, but today we’re sitting at 40. Yesterday, we played outside in T-shirts; today it’s so cold that if my dog thinks she’s getting walked, she's got another think coming. I’m inside, listening to the wind blowing something fierce, and getting stoked about the impending arrival of snow.
Here’s the thing, though – while most moms are probably bummed out about the winter coming because their kids will be stuck inside with cabin fever, I’m stoked about winter coming. You know why? Because all summer long, I hauled my little baby to the park, and I hated every second of it.
As most moms know, preparing to go to the park is excruciating. Getting out of the house often takes longer than the entire rendezvous at the park itself. You can’t find the right shoe. You can’t find the left shoe. Then you can't find your sunglasses or your keys. And don't forget to slather every square inch of your child's face with a super-sized dollop of lotion beforehand, to protect your child's delicate visage from the sun's rays.
I should note that I’m not a big fan of summer as is: I hate being hot, and I’d rather stay in air conditioning from dusk until dawn. But children go mad indoors, and I didn’t want to coop up my baby, so last summer I decided to bite the bullet and take him to the park almost every day.
At first, I envisioned our park excursions would be an opportunity for me to socialize with other moms. I imagined I’d roll up to the park with my cute one-and-a-half year old, lift up the back of the car to pull out the stroller, and the gals would come a-runnin' to help me unload that monster. We’d introduce ourselves, then partake in some general mom oversharing about how much Desitin we'd accidentally ingested the day before, before exchanging numbers and drawing up plans for playdates.
I had just become a mom, and I was eager to befriend other women I could talk to about motherhood. All of my friends either didn’t have kids or had kids considerably older than mine, so I thought going to the park would be a good opportunity to make friends with fellow moms around my age. I wanted them to be a part of my crew, because I knew that simply by virtue of the fact that they were at the park, they were exemplary moms. After all, they could have stayed home. They didn't have to lug shoes, backup clothes, snacks, water, sunscreen, and their cell phones all the way to the park.
So I didn't understand why the park moms weren't nicer to me.
Let’s be clear. The park moms weren't exactly mean. It’s just that, well, I expected them to be a bit more welcoming. I expected everyone to chat endlessly, or at the very least, smiles to be exchanged over the sandbox.
We're all moms, and we all know know what it’s like to worry about our children's safety 10,000 times a day.
I was operating under the assumption that motherhood was a bit like the Mafia: once you join the mom squad, you're on the squad forever. You're homies. You have a gaggle of girlfriends at the ready. Like, if you're just standing around the sandbox, and I see your kid about to go down the slide headfirst, I’m going to pop in and save him, because I have your back. If I see your little turd throwing a cigarette down his throat, I’m going to run over to him and grab it, because I have your back. Because we're all moms, and we all know what it's like to worry about our children's safety 10,000 times a day.
Unfortunately, that did not turn out to be the case. Most of the moms were too busy checking their cell phones or trying to make sure their little ones weren't pouring sand down each other's pants to socialize.
Was I asking for too much from the other moms? Probably. It was just that I'd felt so isolated after my son was born that I had been looking forward to the opportunity to meet other ladies who understood what I was going through.
That said, I'm not going to let my hatred of the park and my fear of the other moms there deter me from getting my kid his daily dose of Vitamin D. Next summer, I’m going to haul out all the warm-weather accoutrements and head back to the park. Then I’m going to be the one to extend the love first. I’m going to say a hearty hello to all of the moms, who are all bonded by the shared experience of bringing little beings into this terrifying world.
And fellow moms, please. The next time you’re in the park, smile at the mom next to you. Wink at her. High-five her! Introduce yourself to someone whose life might feel a little like yours, and see what type of friendship blossoms. And call me, because I’d love to have coffee.