I was minding my own business, really, talking to a mom friend and pushing my toddler on the swings.
I didn’t ask the little boy to come up to me. I didn’t even smile his way.
But he did come up to me. He wasn’t shy at all, and he even smiled as he asked me to push him on a swing.
“Is your mom around?” I asked him, hesitating. It’s not that I didn’t want to be friendly, but I wasn’t sure about this. We live in the country, and I have no idea what the unwritten rules are for pushing a strange kid on a swing.
“No. Hannah’s here.”
He was undeterred. I looked at my mom friend, who lived in the neighborhood, and she shrugged.
I shrugged back and figured it would be OK.
I lifted him up and put him in the swing. I started pushing him and turned back to my friend.
Apparently he wanted me to talk to him too.
But when I turned to him, I saw, instead, a new face by the last remaining swing.
“Push me too!” the new guy said, holding up his arms.
I didn’t even ask him about his adults. I just put him in the swing.
And they did, in fact, want me to talk with them. We talked about why living in a pineapple on the bottom of the sea might be uncomfortable, how big sharks get, and a few other important items I have since forgotten.
When the babysitter came to retrieve Boy 1 and the mom (or was she an aunt?) came to get Boy 2, I smiled. They smiled back, and didn’t seem to mind at all that some strange woman was pushing a blonde girl and their boys. In fact, they thanked me.
I can’t help but laugh. Never once did I ever picture myself as that mom. You know, the one with the gaggle of kids around her, some of them hers but most of them not. I never thought of myself as a magnet for people under age five or as attractive to the preschool set.
That day, at the playground, I had a glimpse, once again, at the many ways the gift of motherhood has made me a better person.
Next time, I only hope that I’m on swing duty so I can have some more of those enticing conversations!
This “Finding Faith in Everyday Life” column originally appeared in The Catholic Times.
For anyone who’s interested, that photo is circa 2008, when I had only two girls and we still lived in an old farmhouse. In fact, that day on the playground, I only had two girls, too.