I’ve found myself accustomed to this new stage of life. The stage when your sweet and adorable baby boy runs off at the playground to make friends and play. He runs back to you from time to time saying, “Mom! I need some water, please.” Then right back to the intense, made up game with a ball and a bunch of older kids.
Who is this little boy and when did he get here?
Park/playground time is way different than it used to be – even just a couple of months ago. Now there’s a little bit more freedom, but it also comes more fear and anxiety.
Will he be welcomed into a group of kids?
I try to reassure myself after each question pops up in my mind. I can’t help but be so proud of my little guy … but at the same time feel really guilty.
Guilty for those moments, some not too long ago, when he was all about playing with me … and for me wishing he would play with a friend for just a little bit. Maybe I should have held on to those moments more, and not wished them away.
But through it all I really enjoy listening to the little conversations that take place between him and new friends – actual real life conversations with meaning and feelings. I’m half in amazement and half disbelief.
I remember thinking I would never get out of the baby stage – that time in life when they are totally depend on you and you never get a moment to yourself. I knew in my mind it would come to end one day, but it seems so distant with no end in sight when you are right in the middle of the chaos.
Until it’s there. Right in front of you when you least expect it.
I can’t help but be in awe at how easily kids can make friends. They literally go from strangers to best buds in about two milliseconds! It’s eye opening really – the number of friends they can make during a short time at the park.
Why can’t it be the same for adults?
The confidence and pure love children have for one another is magical, and I think it’s something we can all learn from. Through my son making friends and starting conversations, it has helped me move from my introverted self and actually be OK talking to a random person at the park. For all the other introverts out there, you know what a struggle it can be to even think about talking to someone you don’t know. The thought alone used to cause me so much anxiety and drain my energy (just run and hide!).
Then somehow I started chatting with these other ladies who were there, alone with their kid(s). We talk about what comes natural, so of course, it’s the kids (LOL). And soon the mood lightens, usually for me, and I can relax because I have followed in my son’s footsteps and made a new friend. Regardless of whether we end up being occasional park buddies, zoo buddies, or really close, I am grateful for another person to connect with.
Life is truly sweeter when you are surrounded by others who value and can relate what you are going through.
When my kids were babies, it was easy to stay in comfort zone, secluding myself and remaining introverted. After all, I needed to stay home with the baby, right? There were naps and schedules. He was fussy so it was better to not go out in public. After living in this mindset for awhile, it was difficult to take the steps necessary to change.
But I needed change eventually whether I realized it or not.
I honestly thought it would take forever for my kids to do anything on their own! I’m not saying they can do everything by themselves now that they are a bit older. But unlike babyhood where they always need you for EVERYTHING, it has been really nice not having to wipe two butts after a potty (I guess it was actually three if I’m counting myself … sorry for TMI)!
I’m sure you get it. We’ve all been there.
Another area I’m finding less of me and more of them doing things on their own is during play time (my children are 19 months apart, which is something to discuss in another post because that in itself is SO STRESSFUL).
Anyway, back to play time…
I am still beckoned to be the dragon or the “seeker” while they hide. However, when they are with their toys, they JUST PLAY ON THEIR OWN. The imagination they have is impressive and when they include each other (nicely) it makes my heart swell. This is what I’ve envisioned happening for so long … for them to be able to laugh and make up silly stories with their stuffed animals. I often times pinch myself and stare at them like a creepy person when it happens.
(What? Don’t y’all?!?)
It’s along the lines of when I’m at their preschool and I catch my daughter’s class in the big room. Naturally, I hide and peek my head around the corner to watch her play. It’s what any mother would do, duh!
So friends, if you’re in the midst of changing seasons so speak, embrace it. It may be a little intimidating at first, or you’ll have the same realization I did one day at how truly grown up your child is getting.
Call me and we can meet up at the park and discuss it with a good cry. 🙂