Our neighborhood playground is quite a magical place lately. A trio of 100+ year old oak trees fell over in a terrible wind storm a few weeks ago. The kids have been making Terebithia in there, climbing the massive trunks, hiding in the caves the branches form. Poachers come with chainsaws to take bits of the wood before the city can break down the trees, so there are also deep piles of sawdust. Felix calls this “snow” and sprinkles it around like he’s a wood fairy.
Then! The city seems to have heaped its entire stash of mulch on our basketball courts, so there’s a mountain at least 12 feet high. Dump trucks come to haul bits of it away every day, but for the most part, it forms a massive playground the kids have pretended into a Minecraft mine, a throwing platform for logs, a snow-covered mountain from Frozen…really they just spend hours there.
We’ve been going to the playground every day it’s not actively raining. I’m willing to stand around in the mud and deal with 3 dirty boys. I’m not willing to stand around in the rain. *shrugs*
We met a neighboring family there the other day and I had the most lovely experience. Bethany was supervising kids climbing around the fallen trees. I was over near mulch mountain. One of B’s kids wandered over and, seeing just two of mine, asked, “Where’s the other one?”
I pointed behind a heap of mulch and B’s son shrugged. Then he thrust a bag of chips at me and asked if I could hold it so he could climb with two hands. I already had a pair of binoculars and a soft pretzel in my hoodie pocket, so what’s a bag of chips?
By the time I made it over to Bethany to share this story, she was holding sweatshirts for both of her kids and one of mine. We each had picked up a sprinkling of random things other kids asked us to hold.
This is what moms do, right? We hold all the stuff.
Whenever we went to an amusement park, my mom never rode a single ride. She stood at the exit and held all the stuff for us. I can see her there, wearing her big sunglasses, arms laden with water bottles and coats, bags and snacks.
I felt this very deep connection to her in that moment, standing in the park holding all the stuff. I wanted so badly to call her and tell her about it, the binoculars in my pocket with the chips and a rock with googly eyes glued on top.
I often think about why it feels so important to me to work part-time. For many years, my parents worked opposite shifts because of childcare. My mom worked 3-11pm, and that meant I didn’t really see her during the school year. Those weekends holding our crap while we road the whip and the bumper cars were all she got to enjoy.
Standing in the playground, with the magical mulch and the ruined trees, I felt like I was exactly where I need to be. Present, with my kids, watching as they discover a nest of snails in the mulch or blowing sawdust snow into each other’s hair. I’m so fortunate to be able to afford this, that our family is financially stable on 1.5 incomes.
So yes. I’ll hold that. I’ll hold whatever you hand me.
Except yesterday, I took a tote bag along for our things so that I, too, could climb mulch mountain and watch the freight trains rattle past.