The first time I took my daughter to the park was intimidating. I knew she was big enough to start going in the swing, but it wasn’t her I was nervous about. I wasn’t terribly comfortable with the layout of the playground. What if I couldn’t find the baby swings? Would other parents be grabbing me and dragging me around the place if they saw me trying to get oriented? What if all the baby swings were taken? How would I know and wouldn’t it be really awkward if I just stood there close by, listening to determine whether they were occupied? What if the other parents talked to me? Or, what if none of the other parents wanted to talk to me? What if all the children were attracted to Prim and she couldn’t do her job because she was being distracted?
I know it sounds dramatic, but my heart was racing along with my thoughts as I directed Prim to the gate of the playground and we made our way toward where I thought the swing set would be. As I suspected, parents did immediately notice me and offered help, but it wasn’t in the sort of aggressive way I was expecting. They just greeted me kindly and offered help if I needed it. I had an immediate sense of simultaneous panic and relief, something like, “Oh no! They are talking to me!”, while at once thinking, “Oh thank the Lord, they are talking to me”
One dad let me know that he and his child were using the swing closest to me, but that there was one available right next to them. I was endlessly thankful he had chosen merely to give me useful information about the location of an available swing, rather than seeing me close by and rushing to move himself and his child out of the way, which sometimes happens and always makes me feel terrible. We struck up a friendly conversation for a minute while we pushed our little ones in the swings side by side, and I started to breath. This going to the park thing wasn’t so bad after all.
Every time I have gone since, it has gotten easier and easier, and today was down right delightful. Little Miss thoroughly enjoyed her time in the swing, then walked and crawled about, happily observing the other children at their play, climbing the steps of the jungle gym, and obliging me as I put her on the slide a few times. One mother admired my daughter, remarking, “She’s gorgeous.” and we had a casual back and forth about our little girls, while two other mothers recognized me from a mums and tots group we have taken part in and we chatted amiably the whole time.
Once a cause for anxiety, trips to the park are becoming more and more a blessing, and the glimpse of possible friendships developing from it is an even more unexpected bonus. Add to that Prim’s great work taking me right to the gate of the playground, and then the baby swings, and the incredible weather… and I’m just feeling really thankful for trips to the park with my two sweet girlies.