It was a beautiful Monday afternoon. I had just finished eating a picnic lunch with Brian and Tori under a gorgeous maple tree flush with the first lime green leaves of spring. Tori was giggling from her seat in the baby swing, soaring higher and higher as daddy pushed until I found myself pinching the inside of my arm to keep from blurting, “don’t you think she’s going a little high?”
Then I saw her.
All around her were clusters of moms, laughing and gossiping together as they shared child-minding duties. But she sat alone, looking lonely as her toddler played in the sand at her feet. On her face I saw a reflection of my own painful shyness. My own longing for a mommy friend. I thought about going over and introducing myself, but like the awkward teen I once was, I couldn’t quite summon the courage.
Suddenly, Brian noticed the direction of my gaze. “Hey, that’s Dianna!” Scooping a protesting Tori from the swing, he marched over and greeted her loudly. I followed hesitantly, unsure of our welcome.
But her face lit up when she saw us. “Brian!” she exclaimed. “How the heck are you?”
He plunked Tori down in the dirt next to her 13-month-old and the two burgeoning toddlers eyed each other warily. Then they both began sifting through the sand, mimicking each other’s motions.
“Look at that. Aren’t they cute,” I said.
She grinned back at me. “They sure are.”
That set off a conversation about our babies’ so-called accomplishments, stubbornness in refusing to walk and teething troubles. As the minutes flew by, my imagination took flight.
I imagined play dates where our kids occupied each other while we moaned about the travails of motherhood. I imagined leaving our husbands in charge while we went out to grab a martini – arriving home before bedtime, of course. I imagined having someone I could call at the drop of the hat to reassure me that no, in fact, I wasn’t going crazy. I was just another tired mom.
I imagined having a mommy friend.
But eventually Tori started rubbing her eyes, signaling it was time to go.
“Well,” she said, “maybe I’ll see you around here again.”
“Yeah,” I said. “I hope so.”
But I know I won’t. I work. I don’t usually get to take Tori to the park on sunny weekday afternoons. I don’t get to hang out with other mommies. I’m destined to go it alone.
But that doesn’t stop me from wishing things could be different.