What a Mom Should Do at a Park–An Official Guide

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I was wasting time on Facebook the other day and saw a blog post with lots of comments. I think it was called, “To that mom on her cell phone at the park,” or something like that. The writer proceeded to bash this unknowing mother for her lack of parenting finesse. How dare she go to the park and then text her friends, ignoring her children? Didn’t she know how fleeting childhood is? Blah, blah, blah.

I couldn’t help but wonder about the mom who’d written the post. Didn’t she have better things to do than judge other moms? Like, play with her own kids, for example? There’s this thing called karma–what goes around comes around, and I hope that hostile soul wasn’t trying to validate her insecurities about motherhood, or something psychological like that.

I’d guess that the poor cell phone mom, unaware that she was being slandered across the world online, had had a rough day. Maybe she’d taken her kids to the park as a last-ditch attempt at sanity, relieved for a five-minute break. Maybe she’d been waiting all day for an email from her deployed husband in Iraq, and wanted a little peace to read it alone for once. Or perhaps she was newly pregnant and morning (afternoon and evening) sick, and the park was the only place her kids could be entertained while she sat down to rest. Who knows? Even if she was texting her friends–does it really matter?

If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s self-righteousness. And I’m beginning to think all of us moms are guilty to some extent.

Guys are so different from girls. Go to a gym and watch men lifting weights, and I guarantee you’ll laugh. Girls at the gym look at other girls in disdain, sizing up their competition and wishing they were skinnier (or bigger-breasted, or blonder, or tanner). Guys just grin at themselves in the mirror and admire their own muscles. They don’t care about the guy a few feet away doing the same thing. Men don’t have to shove others down so they feel better about themselves (usually). They just live their lives. Dads don’t look down at other fathers at the park, whispering to themselves, “I’m so much better than him, because he only brought a frisbee. I brought my entire garage’s worth of balls and bats. I should write a Facebook post about this. Hello, Father of the Year!”

The other day, I had a conversation with some girl friends and discovered something. Every single mom had a different opinion about what to do at a park. One said that was the only time she had to catch up on emails and texts. I said I was more likely to make a fool out of myself chasing my kids around, pretending to be a crocodile. Another woman chuckled and said she liked to sit on the bench and make fun of moms like me, and still another said that she wished she could play with her kids, but she usually ended up on the bench in an exhausted slump. So which was the better mother?

IT DOESN’T MATTER. We’re all great mothers, and we all love our children. How do I know? Because we all take our kids to the park! If we weren’t good parents, we’d lock our kids in a dark basement instead. We use different methods and have differing opinions, and that’s fine. Rather than looking down our noses at each other, or wishing we were more like other moms, why not sit by another mom on the park bench and ask her how old her toddler is? Or allow other moms’ kids to join us in our crocodile game so other moms can have a break (and make fun of us to their friends as they text)? Why can’t we lift each other up instead of tearing each other down? Being a mom is hard. It’s teeth-gritting, hair-pulling, never-ending diet hard. It’s difficult enough without people judging every move we make. Especially at a community park, for goodness sake.

I, for one, pledge to reject the feminine sense of competition. I will strive to never again judge the child-ignoring mom at the park (with the exception of the ones who pretend not to notice when their kids are being dangerous bullies–that bugs me to no end. But anyway). Instead, I will reach out and lift others. I’ll teach my kids that being nice and making friends doesn’t end when they leave elementary school, and even a tired (exhausted) mom can make a difference in someone’s life. Who knows? Maybe someday, when I’m that half-awake woman sprawled out on the bench, someone will return the favor for me.

Gotta love karma.

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2 responses »

  1. I found myself in your “group of friends conversation.” Just so you know, I would NEVER make fun of your crocodile. I would just send me kids over to play, and remain on my bench, refusing to push them in the swings. 😉 Great post! I feel the same about kids who bully. Big no no in my book, from y kid of anyone. I WILL say something to the child, and if the parent objects, they can come talk with me at my bench.

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