Just a few days ago it was 60 degrees outside. Today I woke up to 16 inches of snow in the front yard.
In the spirit of enjoying the weather, we went to the park last Thursday. The kids found little playmates immediately. I planned on sitting on a bench, soaking up some D vitamin, and occasionally checking that the kids were still happy and playing. Instead I spent an hour sitting on the bench talking to a woman about life.
On any given day, the park is full of thirty-something women, tired faces staring as their kids run in circles in front of them. On occasion I may even engage these women in conversation. After all, we have a lot in common. The age of our kids, our status in life, our husbands and their work, all the chit chat that consumes us mothers. But lately, and more often, I avoid these mothers.
Not that potty training, sleep night patterns, and weight loss methods are not important. I remember when just a few months ago it was all I could do to keep my eyes open while staring vacantly towards the vicinity of where my children had moments ago been playing. I craved sleep. And even more than sleep, I craved adult conversation. I am not so far out of this stage that I don’t feel for the women who are in this phase of child rearing. It’s important. It’s necessary. But I no longer feel drawn to discuss these things, so usually I stay on my bench with a book on my lap.
Again, I hadn’t planned on talking to anyone, I had a book ready. But the little friend my eldest had chosen was with, what I later learned was, his grandmother and she caught my eye. Once eyes meet on a playground you are forced to say something, it’s just the etiquette of the situation. I smiled at her and mentioned that our boys were playing well together. Right away she began walking towards me. I would not get to read my book.
So we talked. She a 74 year old woman (yes, it got personal) and me. The age gap is significant enough to make conversation difficult, or so I thought. Instead we spent a pleasant hour discussing life, love, and the day to day.
We discussed her old job, she quit work to raise her two grandsons while her daughter worked. We talked about how things are different now than they were 20 or more years ago. She had so many stories about how her life has changed through time. I listened because it was interesting. I liked hearing her point of view.
Finally, we talked about how her husband is very ill. He needs surgery but he’s too sick to do it safely. She teared up telling me about how stressful it is to watch her husband suffer. How hard it is to care for her grandsons now with her husband sick at the same time. She can no longer care for both boys at the same time. But she still likes having them around. Her life sounds hard. I teared up too.
At the end I told her I enjoyed talking to her, it was the truth. I also told her I would pray for her and her husband, I will. I didn’t know how to let her know what an impression she made on me, this woman going through something so hard right now but still out at the park, enjoying the sun, enjoying her grandson.