As a solo parent, it would seem like a trip to the park would be like a walk in the park. Peaceful and pleasant. Wrong.
With an 8-year-old daughter who is the chattiest Cathy on the planet, a trip to the park is almost physically painful. As I sit in the car, this is where the pain begins and ends.
Chatty Cathy, the only child at home, asks other children to be her friend. She’s the extrovert child of an introvert mother. I don’t want to talk to the other parents, I don’t want to be your friend, I don’t want to exchange niceties. I want to sit in the car with my eye on my daughter in peace and quiet. It’s the only me time I get today.
That’s when I see her do it. I cringe. I told her not to, but it’s as if she can’t help herself. She’s talking to the parents of the toddler. I told her “do not speak to any adults.” I can hear her “awwweee she’s so cute,” talking about their kid. Then she’s off and gabbing while the mom sweetly sways back and forth with their infant strapped on while the dad listens intently to every rambling word my daughter utters as she shares some long, drawn-out story that goes something like this: “so one day… ” All the while I’m still in the car. This is when the story in my mind begins.
There is the sudden feeling of guilt overwhelming me, as I feel like I can hear the conversation this sweet, perfect couple, the parents that go to the park together, are having in their head. “What a sweet girl. What a shame her mother is sitting in her car. She’s probably on her cell phone. I can’t believe she would allow her daughter on the playground unsupervised. This poor little girl must be so lonely that she talks to strangers. Can you believe this. What a shame.”
Of course, in reality they’re probably just listening and making an escape route while wondering, “Will our children talk this much?” Or perhaps they are discussing what they will make together for dinner. The picture of the perfect family.
But what if they are judging me? Who fucking cares. As a mom who goes this alone, I am under no obligation to explain my reasons for sitting in the car. I got her to the park today in spite of knowing exactly how it would go down, didn’t I?
She’s made new friends, I can see her ― she’s having fun being the extrovert that she is, winning. But now that the sweet couple and their littles have gone, I see the next mom looking her way no doubt wondering the same thing: “Where are this girl’s parents?”
Mommy darling, stay in your own lane. This isn’t my first rodeo. I’m in the car so my daughter can go to the park. From my car I award you mommy of the day, and when I honk for my daughter to come to the car, be sure to turn around and do your queen wave. Be certain your head is slightly tilted to the right, smile with your tongue touching the back of your upper teeth so it looks natural, elbow up and palm flat. Big smile to me, the mom in the car.
If I drank, I’d be having a Mexican Coke with a tequila back today saying salud to the fact that I got my daughter to the park. But I don’t, and all will be just fine while you are at a PTA meeting.
I’m the mom in the car, and you are not.
And when it’s time to go, my daughter hops in the car, saying “Mommy, that was awesome. Thank you so much for taking me to the park.”
So whether the stories I have conjured up in my mind are real or not, the truth is, all of our children are still breathing no matter our placement on the playground or in the car.
All is well.
Originally posted on www.suburbanmisfitmom.com