When I started bringing my boys out to the local playgrounds, I was looking for a connection to other moms. What better place to find that connection except where all the other moms were taking their kids! I had seen the playgrounds full of parents and children when I’d walk by with my newborn in the stroller. They would be chatting, drinking coffee from their travel mugs and sitting on park benches while their children played. So when the time came when my boys were toddlers, I excitedly went to the playgrounds to get this connection and meet other moms! I was armed with my coffee, sharing sand toys and snacks for my toddlers.
But… it turned out one of my sons was “more” and “spirited” and “high energy” and well, every time I sat on a park bench or chatted to a mom, I had to run over to deal with some issue that was happening or something that he needed me for.
This certainly broke the flow of my connection time and I felt it. I was feeling the pull of the moms versus the pull of being needed by my son. It really was like a tug of war. I really needed the mom connection and I really needed to help my son navigate these playground issues. I realized I could not do both at the same time.
For a while, I resented our time at the playground and seeing so many children playing so nicely needing no support at all. I felt like I wasn’t a good parent since I couldn’t make this work. I even started to resent him for needing me. The resentments were not helpful of course but that didn’t change them from happening. I felt alone in the middle of the crowded playground. The isolation of having a child who was “more” was starting to creep in. I struggled with how to manage this until one day I made a decision.
I made a decision that I was at the playground for his benefit and not for my benefit. Being his mom was my job and like any job it had to be my focus while I was “on duty”. So I started supporting him, teaching him, helping him to problem solve with the kids at the playground. I brought my coffee in my travel mug and took it to the swings or the slide or climbing structure. As for the mom connection, some of the moms came to me and those were the moms who could see the struggle, who respected the struggle, who respected my decision and who wanted to support me…us. These were the moms who were the first, of many, to become my tribe!