A couple weeks ago, we were staying with my parents for Bjorn’s monthly army drill. This gave me the opportunity to spend time at a nearby Starbucks (insert all the heart eyes here!) – something I don’t get to do very often anymore, so I was thrilled to have a quiet afternoon at my favorite coffee shop. I grabbed my vanilla chai (always iced in the summer!) and decided to sit outside, actually to avoid the ice-cold A/C. 🙂
1 // Across the way sat a few other people at outdoor tables – a mother and her two teenage daughters. As I moved a couple chairs around, opened up my laptop and got situated (anyone else super ritualistic about getting “settled” at coffee shops?), I soon realized that my quiet work time wouldn’t be all that quiet. At the other side of the patio, the mother had a friend on speaker phone and was leading a pretty passionate, gossipy discussion with whoever was on the other end. 🙂 I worked on another blog post as I sat there, trying not to totally listen in but also being hopelessly dragged into her conversation as an unwilling audience member! On and on the conversation went, getting more flippant and gossipy by the minute. When I looked up, I saw that her teen daughters sat off to the side at their own table – both of them on their phones and looking bored out of their minds. After 30(!!) minutes, the mother said to her friend, “Well, I guess I’d better let you go – the girls look bored and probably want to go home. I’ll call you later.” When she hung up, she beckoned to her daughters, who rose expressionless from their chairs and followed their mom to the car like zombies, eyes still glued to their phones. I left Starbucks that afternoon feeling kind of hollow inside and discouraged – especially thinking about those girls and even their sense of who their mom was.
2 // When I got back to my parents’, I had a nice chat with my brother. We decided to make lunch, and when I was washing my hands, something caught my eye out the window. One of the little neighbor boys was running and leaping about in his yard, just exuding summer-joy and excitement. He was tossing and kicking and throwing a giant beach ball! It looked like a blast. It was clear he was thrilled to be outdoors… And then I saw that his mom was outdoors too. She was out in the yard and I thought, maybe she’s going around behind him to clean up toys. He flung the ball at her and when I saw them talking I thought, is he going to help her clean up? Is she reminding him to come inside soon? And then lo and behold, it hit me – they were playing together! His mom wasn’t cleaning up. She wasn’t preoccupied, picking up toys or sticks or yelling at him…or on the phone. She was actually having a blast with him!! 🙂 They were both running around and jumping up to catch the ball, laughing at how it bounced haphazardly on the grass. It was heart-warming to watch – to see a mother so free, so absorbed only in the art of playing with her child! I turned away from the window feeling all those warm fuzzies inside – especially thinking about that little boy and his sense of who his mom was.
Needless to say, this second scene made my day. It also gave me a lot to think about.
I fully realize that these two stories only capture a moment or so in each family’s life. Perhaps the first mother was having a rough day, and perhaps the second was playing for the first time in a while. BUT – but, something tells me that both of these situations was habitual, normal even.
I’ve been blessed to have an intelligent, beautiful, playful mother. She’d play with us, teach us all kinds of new skills and facts and games, listen to us, not act distracted around us, and love us fiercely. My mom is an incredible example of the type of mother I want to be. And seeing these 2 other examples of moms so recently emphasized for me the importance of the type of motherhood that remembers to be undistracted and playful.
How about you? What are your goals as far as what kind of a mother you want to be? Are you a mom yourself? What kind of advice do you have about being present as a mom?