Do it Again
“Do it again,” my son squeals from the swing, “Do it again!”
I sigh then “run under,” pushing him up, up, up so high over my head till he laughs and screams like he was flying through the air for the very first time. He swings a little, slows down … down … down, then beckons, “Do it again!”
And again, and again, and again and again. Oh, the park. My mini-van knows the drive by heart. It could probably even get there on its own -- back out of the driveway, turn right, then left, then right again. And voila, arrive at a primary-colored playground for the 9,765th time. I could make the drive in my sleep … or in a coma. I’ll probably keep driving there even after I’m dead. But, oh no, now I sound morose or at least ungrateful. So, just ignore that last part (the part about me driving to the park when I’m dead) and let me take a moment to explain my tone and the bone I’m picking with the park.
You see, there are certain parts of a mother’s life that are, most kindly put, monotonous. So much so, I’ve come to conclude, it is this way by design. And the park, I tell you, is a case in point. That point being that children love the park for the same reasons adults find it boring: it is always the same, it is always open and its target audience is about 3 and 1/2 feet tall.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the park. It’s the answer for so many of this mother’s challenging moments. Cranky kids? The park! Skipped naps? The park! Frazzled from cleaning a house that is simultaneously being destroyed? Let’s go to the park! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve pulled up to our jungle-gymed field, slid open my mini-van’s door and felt all my mommy tension simply disappear as my boys dash into a space set aside just for fun. They jump and run and pretend they’re pirates up on the play castle they swear is really a boat.
I watch them and smile. They give me space they don’t at home in the kitchen. They forget about their many needs and simply play. Fresh air. Other mothers to talk to … yes, I love the park. But sometimes . . .
I really hate it. Because sometimes, you see, it lacks the 30-something age-level excitement I crave. The excitement, or rather the glamour I had expected to arrive by this point in my life.
“Do it again,” my son screams and the old lady beside me on the bench asks to hold the baby. I comply, run to pump the swing and return to her smile. Her eyes are blue as cold water and her skin almost matches. She waves a crumpled tissue over my tots like the Pope waves his staff in a blessing.
“Enjoy it,” she says then tells me about her kids all grown and gone. “If I could, I’d do it all over again,” she says, “I’d do it all again.”
She hands over the baby and shuffles away, casting a shadow long and dark across the blacktop. Whether it be her wrinkled hands or the wisdom of her words, the acquaintance reminds me once again of time’s indiscriminate swiftness -- its viscous flow, its rapid flight. I realize quite clearly that I’ll surely warm these benches as well when I’m an old lady, dreaming of my son’s golden curls -- longing to ruffle them just one more time. And with a spark, I jump to launch that swing through the clear summer sky – simply delighted to “do it again.”
-- Sarah Johnson can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org