Today at the Park

The boys fell asleep during rest time today for the first time in weeks, and I rushed them awake at 4:30 knowing we were running out of sunlight and they needed to stretch their legs at the park.

I was slightly annoyed already. Husband is gone for the week, so I’m playing the single parent gig. And PMSing.

Doodlebug got out of bed at the mention of the park, pottied, and got shoes on like it was no big deal. (This is totally a big deal as parenting him lately has been total torture difficult.)

Stinkbug whined, complained, cried, and protested. He didn’t want the shirt I picked. He didn’t want to change out of his shorts. He didn’t want socks. He wanted his new shoes. He didn’t have to go potty right then. FOR. THE. LOVE.

I kept it together (for the most part), and warned him he was going to miss out on playtime. Then I ticked off the minutes he would sit out each time he complained or argued. Six minutes of time-out promised. More crying and complaining.

Finally. Out the door. To the park. I started a timer for Stink’s timeout and at first he watched the seconds tick down. Then he settled back on the bench. By the time the buzzer sounded, he crawled in my lap and announced he didn’t want to play. I tried to convince him to run, slide, chase, swing but he stuck to his guns. No playing today. Whatever, dude.

A few moments later an older lady was walking through the park and staring at Stinkbug. Like a little awkwardly. I worried that I knew her, but I could not for the life of me remember where I would know her from. When she was standing directly in front of me (still staring straight at Stink) she said, “I can’t stop looking at him. He looks just like my son did. My son had blond hair like this. He looked just like this.” She reached out and stroked Stinkbug’s hair and I swear she was somewhere else behind her clear eyes.

“He’s thirty eight now.” She shook her head as if to shake herself from the dream she was re-living. “The time passes so fast.” She said it more to herself than to me and gave Stinkbug one last pat before heading off into the fading daylight.

I felt my eyes filling with tears as I imagined my son as a thirty eight year old man with his own life, his own problems, his own family. I squeezed Stinkbug a little closer and breathed in little boy scent radiating off his sweet blond head.

The days can be hard (especially when my husband is out of town!), but I don’t ever want to wish this away. I don’t want to hold regrets in my heart when I see children playing on the playground near my house thirty years from now. I want to smile at the beautiful memories, laugh with fondness over the messiness of this find-your-shoes, i-need-to-go-potty, we-forgot-the-book-bag, can-i-have-a-snack season of life.

I’m thankful for a little perspective today. These kids? A gift without comparison. These days? Messy, but precious beyond description. These few years? Fleeting. Flying. Never waiting. Never slowing.

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