Dear Mother in the Park
You will never know how glad I am to have spent time with you today. I haven’t met anyone like you before. I hope you didn’t notice me staring at you. I wasn’t meaning to be rude. In fact, just the opposite. Behind my sunglasses, I was filled with admiration for you and hope for myself.
You see, I am a mother like you, only a newer version. My baby is six weeks old. I guessed your children’s ages and decided your little boy was probably 3 or so and your baby about 10 months.
As I sat in the sun watching you, you were teaching me. It wasn’t a formal lesson; we didn’t even speak except when you smiled in my direction and I called out “hello”.
Thank you for showing me some very important things today… things I really, really needed to know.
While watching you, I learned:
- that mothers can breastfeed in public. I watched you as you sat in the grass and pulled your shirt up. You were so comfortable nursing your baby and you didn’t bat an eyelash when he let go and crawled away from you. You weren’t embarrassed and you didn’t try to hide even though the park was full of people.
- that children make their mothers laugh. I don’t know what your little boy whispered in your ear but the sound of your laughter, and the joy on his face, were beautiful.
- that children and dirt go hand in hand. You didn’t seem at all disturbed when your baby put sand in his mouth or when your little boy plopped down in the mud to play with his truck.
- that I am not the only mother in old yoga pants and a baggy t-shirt. Except I am a little self-conscious in mine and you were totally at ease. You didn’t seem to mind that the material stretched across your bottom or your tummy had a little roll (I peeked while you were nursing). You seemed content with who you are at this season in your life… I’m trying so hard to get there too.
- that children matter more than cell phones. I heard your phone, from the pocket in your stroller, beeping and ringing. I don’t know how you resisted answering it, or at least checking your text messages, but you did. You glanced over a few times so I knew you heard it.
- that babies sleep anywhere…even older babies. I smiled when I saw your baby’s eyes flapping closed while you pushed him in the swing. I thought you would need to rush off home for his nap (which disappointed me because I was learning so much from you), but you didn’t go. You simply settled back down on the grass, nursed him to sleep and laid him in the stroller.
- that children love the sound of their mother’s voice. It was so sweet the way your older boy leaned against your shoulder, as you read books to him, right there in the park, while the baby slept. He pointed to pictures and you made that funny voice while reading out loud… you both chuckled and he snuggled in closer.
You probably didn’t notice but when my baby woke, rooting for my nipple, hungry for my milk, I didn’t rush home the way I always do. Instead I lifted my shirt and breastfed her right there, on the bench, with people all around. It was all because of you… dear Mother in the Park.
And when it was time to go, I didn’t worry about my too-tight yoga pants… I felt beautiful… and all because of you… dear Mother in the Park.
And when we got home, I laid in the grass, in my own small garden, and giggled with my baby… just like you, dear Mother in the Park.
You are a wonderful teacher, dear Mother in the Park. Thank you for being you.