Saturday, September 13, 2014

On the (Park) Bench

Life is a juggling act.  I realize this is true for many of us, but at this point in my life I truly understand this concept of juggling.  And feeling like a circus clown.  I've got two part-time jobs, three kids at three different schools, a husband, a little blog, and some volunteer commitments.  I'm not sure were the tipping point is between balanced life and crazy life but I fear I may have gone over the edge.

I think some of it is temporary. Only 8.5 more months of shuttling our high school senior to and from school.  After a few more months, I should have a better handle on my new PT gig, all its moving parts and how they operate.  After careful consideration I'm giving up a big volunteer commitment at the end of this year.  It will get better.  I'll master this routine in time.  But for now it really is a circus. 

In the midst of this madness, I realized I have reached a pretty awesome milestone as a mom, and I almost didn't even notice. 

For years, one of my favorite things to do with the kids has been going to the park.  I love being outside.  They love running and exploring new places.  We all enjoy the change of scenery, new friends we might meet and snacks on the picnic benches.  Sometimes we meet up with other friends and the moms/dads chat, cuddle little babies or run after errant toddlers while the older kids go off to conquer the big slide.  Truth be told, these play dates were anything but relaxing for me.  I always seemed to arrive at the park with high hopes of carrying on an adult conversation with another mom, only to be disappointed because I had to run off mid-sentence to catch my young one before he fell off the monkey bars.  I never got to be the mom relaxing at the park.  I was always on high-alert as the spotter/referee. I enjoyed it, but it was action-packed fun as opposed to sitting-on-the-sidelines kind of fun.

Last weekend I hit the park with the kids and found a shady bench to sit and watch them play.  As I sat on the bench, I realized I WAS SITTING!!  AT THE PARK!!  There are benches there specifically for that purpose!  I had never spent more than a few fleeting moments on those benches because I was always spotting little ones as they climbed the ladders, or catching someone on the slide, or kissing boo-boos, or changing diapers, or reminding the kids not to throw rocks or poke each other with sticks. 

And now.  I have arrived.

I blinked and suddenly my kids can conquer every part of the park without my assistance. They are old enough to know their limits, wait for their turn on the slide, and navigate a game of chase without getting kicked in the head near the swing set.  I can take them to the park and simply enjoy being a spectator.  At ages three and six, these kids are creative and adventurous together. The big one likes to make plans and create elaborate story lines or games.  The little one likes to follow along and stretch the limits on where he can go or what he can do to be like his big sister.  They take turns doing silly stunts screaming, "Look at me!" while the other one pauses to be an appreciative audience.  They laugh.  They "cook" elaborate meals out of wood chips and leaves.  They race down the slide and run back to the top to do it again.  Over and over and over. 

Vista Ridge Park.  Redding, CA

They tend to get along with each other better at the park than anywhere else on the planet.  I think they could probably stay there all day long and be perfectly content. 

Which would be just fine by me, actually.  I'll be right over there....enjoying the bench.

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