I used to spend hours here. Well, not here exactly, but at places just like this. Everything in primary colours and cheerful, surrounded by impact-absorbing pebbles or wood chips. Children shouting to each other against a backdrop of cars and birdsong and the sound of the wind in the trees.
We used to come for an hour each morning and another hour in the evening when the weather was warm enough. We’d come in the snow too, but only while the sun shone.
It was my sanity, along with play group and bible study. We were all there for the same purpose: to let our children run off steam, tire them out before nap or bed and to fulfill our “good parent” obligations.
In the meantime, we’d chat about the weather, compare developmental milestones, and complain about laundry, the dishes, home renovations, and the energy. The non-stop energy of the little humans running around in front of us.
When I was a nanny, before I had my own children, I used to wonder why the parents didn’t play with their own children at the park. They sat on the bench while I played tag and grounders with my charges and with theirs. But giving birth changes your perspective on many things, and I was now one of those parents sitting on the bench with a magazine or shooting the breeze with another exhausted mother.
Oh, when my kids needed help on the slide or if they got too handsy in the sandbox, I’d jump up and intervene, because that’s what “good moms” do.
But for the most part, I’d enjoy the feel of the sunshine on my skin, breath in the laughter and the energy, and bask in a few stolen minutes of relaxation, before it was back to the grind, back on routine, making lunch, changing diapers and washing dishes.
So here am I again, stealing a few moments while the younger ones get fresh air and vitamin D from the evening sun on their skin. They look as if they could stay here forever, digging tunnels that go nowhere and sifting the pebbles from the sand.
And I could too. As if this moment could last forever.