I don’t know how I graduated from college. I actually thought it would be a great idea to take my daughter to a huge outdoor park I had seen the weather forecast for full sun, spray paint humidity and 90 something degree heat. Being the planner that I am, I believed a few bottles of water, sunscreen and a great snack was all that any child would need to have fun.
I was right…it was all needed. Me on the other hand.
About 30 minutes into this Sahara Desert excursion, I started to get a headache and felt a bit nauseous. Then I realized I was surrounded by a giant flock of mothers…my son’s age. Not a one of them looked like they used hair coloring for the same reason I did. They each wore stylish shoes or fashionista sandals, while I donned my best pair of sneakers. I needed help climbing around the jungle gym and scaling walls without being an insurance risk. I rubbed my tendonitis while I pushed my daughter on the swing, then leaned over to someone behind Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses and said, “Is this a special Mom’s Club hangout or something?”
“Oh no,” she replied. “But if you come here long enough, you get to know us regulars and we’re all friends.”
To be honest, I began to slip into a mild dose of adolescent insecurity as they all laughed and shared the latest news and updates with each other. So I started to pray. It’s not just a lesson that I learned in Sunday School that God never leaves me. He is my Friend above all friends. Maybe I’d have an opportunity to reach out to someone despite feeling as out of place as our President would be at a Tea Party rally.
As time passed and the rubber on my shoes melted into the wood chips, I listened to conversations about TV shows, movies, purses and kids toys that I’ve never heard of. There wasn’t one occasion I could have jumped in and added my own superficiality nor directed the conversation spiritually. I just continued to smile while periodically catching my daughter when she’d fall off things.
Then, I didn’t catch her. Screaming is an instant magnet on a playground. When I lifted her up and pulled wood from her hair and mouth, I saw an ocean of eyes glaring over the tops of sunglasses. I wiped my daughter’s tears, kissed her dirty nose and set her right back up on the elevated catwalk so she could face her fear. It was an important battle.
As lunch approached, I decided to pack up our gear, my kid and head for the car. The other mom’s had everything from portable refrigerators to coolers with fans attached. I’ll learn. I turned the van key and looked into the pavilion where everyone was sitting. I felt miserable physically but sad at the thought I couldn’t connect with one life. Then a woman caught my eye with two little boys in tow.
She had worn out tennis shoes, ankle socks, frumpy shorts and rebellious curly hair. Her expression looked like she needed more than V-8 juice. Another one like me from the land of misfits. Just when I thought I should warn her of what lie ahead, her T-shirt told me she had already been here and conquered this land of make believe. It read “Today is SO tomorrow.”
Instant smile. Next time I come, I’ll make sure my vanity is left at home while my cooler is packed with lunch. I’ll also be looking for this lady.
“God sets the solitary in families…”