Saturday, April 13 2024 - 4:55 AM
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Playground Mentoring

One morning I met a young mother in the playground at our community park. Her three-year-old daughter and my two-year-old grandson had discovered each other and were timidly starting to play together. So the early conversation was about the children, their ages, and names, and then, “Do you have other children,” “Where do you live,” “How long have you lived here?” questions.

At first I wasn’t sure that she wanted to chat since many parents spend time with their smart phones while waiting for the kids to play. But we easily slipped into sharing more information as we stood watching the little ones. She was willing to lift my grandson into a baby swing since I am not supposed to lift that much weight. She helped him reach so he could try the upper body sliding bar equipment. Her daughter was an adorably safe and gentle playmate.

The little girl would soon be four and she had an eight-year-old sister who was in school. At one point the mother confided that she was concerned about her youngest daughter: “I try to take her places and do things but I worry that she’s getting bored and needs to be with other kids. Maybe I’m getting a bit antsy to go back to work,” she admitted.

“Oh, she will learn lots of things from other kids, and they also continually pass around their viruses,” I replied with a laugh. I knew very well what my grandsons were encountering in daycare–mostly good, but not always! The well-dressed mother seemed able to financially afford to be home with her child. I offered my own opinion that her years as a full-time mother would soon pass, along with the opportunities to give time and values that only a mother can give her child.

Sharing Motherhood

I couldn’t help remembering my time as a young mother. In retrospect, I was thankful for my sometimes-lonely/crazy years as a homemaking mother. I also told her when my daughter was small I had reached out to other young mothers by creating a support group at my church. I shared about the children’s books that I had more recently authored and she wrote down the titles in her smart phone. She offered her affirmations of my life achievements and seemed interested in what I had to say. We shared from different phases of our lives as women.

More than an hour had elapsed when we invited the children to go home and cool off for lunch. We had been so involved in our conversation that I didn’t even know her name, so I asked. As we all got ready to leave, “Amy” turned to me and said, “I am so glad that I met you today.” I also felt blessed by our encounter.

So Much More…

Perhaps when I take grandkids to a park in the future, I will make a point to get to know some of the mothers or grandmothers that appear. How many of them don’t live near their own mothers or sisters, or are struggling with difficult life decisions? One of them may welcome a person who is interested in her life, or who shares mother experiences.

I think about the scripture in Titus 2:3-5, regarding sound instruction in attitude and lifestyle for older women so that they can “train the younger women to love their husbands and children,”(NIV). The playground is so much more than swings, slides, and snacks.

Questions for personal journaling or group discussion:

1. Is there a place where you encounter other parents or grandparents who might be open for conversations and friendship?

2. What do you wish an older parent had once shared with you?

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About Karen Spruill

Karen Spruill

writes from Orlando, Florida.

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