What the park knows

The moms started coming here over a year ago. One August morning they dropped their kids off for the first day of school and then made their way to me — the town park. I’m known as the water tower park (even though the actual water tower has been taken down for years), the yellow park (thanks to the two plastic yellow slides), or the park across from the church. All the moms sat in a semicircle, sunglasses and coffee cups in hands, some dressed in scrubs on their way to work, and others in workout clothes. I listened as they talked about their worries and fears, the hopes they had for themselves and their children, and the prayers they had for the community. They found common ground in their love for their children. Their voices came together to pray the words they could share together: be with us, God. One by one I could tell they felt lighter, more hopeful, more connected.

After their time praying for the school year they started talking and sharing about their summers, the new lunch boxes they bought for their kids, and the start of crazy schedules. Laughter erupted from the women. Soon some had to leave for work or to take care of their babies who started fussing. Before everyone left one of the moms asked if others would be interested in a playgroup to meet weekly. A few heads nodded. Would once a week work? Maybe every Wednesday? Sure they said. And off they went strengthened for the day ahead.

A week later they did arrive again. This time with coffee and banana bread to share among themselves. There were more kids and they met at the playground rather than the picnic tables. The air turned a bit cooler, but the sun still shone on their faces and I listened to their stories and laughter once again. Their presence filled me with light. I heard about the first week of school and kids’ favorite classes and teachers, how tired the kids were after school, and why can’t anyone seem to find food their kids will eat? And so it happened that every week these moms and their kids would come to me and sit with one another. New faces joined, and there always seemed to be room for one more.

Somedays I couldn’t tell which kid belonged to which mom, it seemed that they all were raising one anothers’ kids. Snacks were for everyone and the toys passed from one kid to another. Some days I could feel the weight of sadness among the moms, but thanks to the listening ears and the “me toos” and the “you’re not alone” the sadness lessened. I heard them talk about friendship and gratitude and the meals that got dropped on their porch after a hard day. Listening to them I saw that friendship tasted like juice boxes shared, and fresh made muffins. Friendship sounded like a chorus of laughter and the silence found in snuggling with a newborn. Friendship felt like a hug after a sleepless night. Friendship looked like a group of moms and their kids coming to the town park every week.

The school year came and went and I learned some things from these moms and their children. They taught me that life is just sweeter with friends along for the journey. I saw that it takes one invitation to bring people together. I witnessed the power of showing up over and over again. There was much talk about how hard parenting can be, but when they were together they felt less alone.

The seasons changed and so did the women gathered — they were transformed from friends to family.


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// This post is part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to view the next post in the series "With a Little Help."