As my son played inside the mall playplace on a dreary fall day, I looked around. My phone was in my purse. I was casually in observation mode. Sometimes when my kids are happily playing at a park or wherever and I’m on a bench or in the grass, I watch all of the kids play. Instead of reading, writing or checking Facebook or Instagram. I try not to stare, but I rather inconspicuously watch moms, dads and nannies too. I try and figure things out. Relationships. Personalities. Potential jobs. The kind of parent somebody is. The kid dynamics. All in the midst of supervising my children from a safe distance. Of course.
Today, I watched as most parents stared down at their phones. I watched two sisters attack each other to the ground. Whoopsie. One tried to bite the other one and then the inevitable tears and crying erupted. I watched as kids jumped, slid and ran around frantically. It’s like they all intuitively knew it was a soppy wet, dreary day outside and they should quickly expend as much energy as possible. Right here. Right now. For fear of boredom setting in later. Leave it all on the floor of the mall Playplace.
Then, I saw you. So I wrote you this letter in my head. I wish I could have given it to you. Somehow in a non-stalker, non-awkward way.
Hey Mall Playplace Mama:
I glanced over and saw you relaxed, snuggling your happy crawling baby. His giggles proved that he adored the game that you played. Snuggle him close, hold him up to your face and kiss him. Then, release him. It was a beautiful display of love. I looked away. What I really wanted to do, without interrupting you, was borrow your phone and take a picture or a video of your candid genuine mother-son interaction. One day you could look back on the video and recognize that love. And what a phenomenal mother you are. You’re a natural. If you didn’t already know it. It may seem creepy. Since I don’t know you. But I can just tell. I meet a ton of moms. I know your kids will grow up and thank you. In a million different ways.
You’re only focused on what’s in front of you. Holding, hugging and stealing kisses. I’m pretty certain they know they’re the most important people in the world. In your arms. Your eyes gaze into each one of your children’s eyes. You’re so engaged in the present moment. And you hold your older girls just as beautifully as your baby. They laugh. And love every moment of your one-on-one affections.
I must be hormonal because I don’t know you, but I want to cry. I want to tell you how amazing and rare you are. I’m pretty sure your praises come in the form of three little ones jumping on and off of your lap. Constantly. Their tiny important world revolves around you. They play independently and get along well with others. I heard one daughter ask you if she could take her socks off. She pointed to another child with her socks off. You calmly stated, “I’m not her mom. I’m yours. You need to keep your socks on.” And your daughter didn’t argue or pout or throw a fit. She listened. And continued to play. That’s huge.
I don’t know you. But I recognize your love. I’ve seen it on the faces of mothers before. My grandmother’s. My mother’s. My sister’s. Mothers who are my friends. Mothers who I work with. And mothers just like you, that I’m lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time with. I’ve observed moms like you interacting with their kids at parks, playgrounds, baseball fields, grocery stores, everywhere. Thank you for being the kind of mom that inspire us all to love stronger, hold tighter and be engaged in the moments right in front of us. Maybe I will see you at the mall Playplace again someday. And maybe I will be brave enough to tell you what a beautiful mother you are. Keep mothering on. The world is better because of mamas like you.
The unintentionally-creepy-intermittently staring inspired mom (whose kid didn’t want to snuggle, but did want to jump off of every piece of play equipment)