It was an absolutely gorgeous day. Clear blue skies, mid-70s, a slight breeze blowing through my skirt. My friend, Julie, and I sat on a bench, chatting and observing the other families at the playground:
– A mom was giving a snack to a toddler, keeping one eye on her climbing preschooler, while pushing an infant in a stroller overflowing with baby supplies.
– Another mom, who was so pregnant she looked like she could squat right by the slide and give birth, comforted a crying two-year-old who got bumped by the other mom’s preschooler.
– A third mom was trying to soothe a fussy baby, while pushing a kid in a swing, while negotiating turns on the slide with a third child.
Julie and I had been in those moms’ moccasins before. But now her kids are 12, 10, and 9, and mine are 13, 9, and 5.
We have Big Kids now.
We sat on the bench, soaking in the sunshine while our kids wandered around the park, the older ones occasionally giving the youngest a push on the swing.
We sat on the bench and watched those other moms doing the Mommy Park Juggle—trying to have conversations while constantly bouncing their attention to the various needs of their ankle-biters.
We sat on the bench.
WE SAT. ON THE BENCH.
And we reveled in that fact as we reminisced.
“Remember those days?” I said. “When going to the park was almost more work than it was worth?”
“Yes,” Julie replied. “I remember seeing the moms of older kids sitting on a bench, too. I always wondered what that would be like.”
Just then, someone’s toddler started crying and Pregnant Mom stood up and stretched her back.
“I gotta say,” said Julie, a smile spreading across her face. “It’s pretty awesome.”
“Yes,” I agreed. “It’s everything I dreamed it would be.”
And then we laughed. Not to rub it in, but because HALLELUJAH, WE DID IT. We survived the pregnant/baby/preschool park years and reached the Big Kid Promised Land where going to the park is 100% relaxing.
(Well, 97% relaxing. There is that 3% when the Big Kids complain that they’re bored, but that’s quickly quelled with a lecture about children in developing nations.)
Seriously, Big Kids can pack their own lunches. They can buckle themselves in the car. They can push themselves in the swing. All you have to remember is water and sunscreen. No diaper bag. No change of clothes. No baby carrier. No bribery snacks.
I always tell moms of babies and toddlers to treasure those years, because they truly are precious. But there is something to be said for the Big Kid Promised Land.
Parenting doesn’t necessarily get easier as the kids get older, but the park sure does. Moms of Little Kids, your time will come.
And let me tell you—it will be glorious.