It’s something we do so often these days. Going to the playground with my kids has become part of some ritual, we hardly have to think about it anymore. You start with the swings, and after several pushes hit up the slides, teeter totter and eventually make your way back to the beginning to repeat the sequence.
I won’t lie, I particularly enjoy when my son is on the swings. There is something calming about pushing him, seeing his little face squeal in delight and also maybe the selfish reason of knowing I don’t need to chase after him so I can rest for just a moment.
On this particularly sunny day at a new park I was pushing my son on the swing blowing him kisses but generally being quiet and enjoying the warmth on my face and the silence that comes from being alone in a playground at 8am.
It wasn’t long before another mom appeared and her son that looked to be a similar age to mine. Suddenly the calmness of the moment was broken when this new duo decided to set up camp in the swing nearby.
There is something about seeing a family with children of similar ages to yours that causes curiosity to bubble. As I watched this mom I was struck by how animated she was. At first glance she was very loud, this was obvious; but it was more that that. She was so incredibly present and engaged with her son, commenting constantly on everything around him, asking him to repeat back what she had just said etc etc.
I’m going to call myself out – initially my first emotion was feeling a bit annoyed. Like I had just said, I was quite enjoying the calmness of the early morning but I also couldn’t help comparing myself to her. I was lazily blowing a few kisses to my strapped in son and this mother had transformed a simple swing experience into a preschool classroom.
It wasn’t long before she noticed my gaze at her (I hope I wasn’t starting but I probably was) and she smiled at me saying, “He has some developmental delays so we try every opportunity to get him to engage.”
At that moment the bubbling of curiosity turned to a flood of emotions – humility, regret, sadness, but most important of all were admiration and respect.
We judge – we all do. We are selfish – we all are. How often though do we know the full story? How often do our problems seem absolutely minuscule when we hear the stories of someone else? How often do we need to get out of our own heads and wake up to the world to understand how truly fortunate we are.
This mother might have been trying to teach her son but in all honesty it was me that needed the lesson that day and just like that her once too animated voice became something I truly admired. Sometimes perspective is everything.