The struggle, the arched back, the cries. I see it and hear it all from my vantage point across the playground. A mom with a messy pony-tail is using all her arsenal to maneuver her unwilling baby into the stroller. She picks her baby up and heaves a sigh. I see her chest rise and fall and her downward glance. She's giving up, I think. Someone save her.
Just then another mom from the mess of blankets, diaper bags, strollers, food wrappers, sippy cups and frenzy that she is surrounded with, stands up. She speaks to The Weary One - hands her a blanket. They share a knowing glance. A blanket is passed. "What can I do to help?" I imagine her friend to say.
Soon the tired baby is laid down in the stroller. The Weary One covers the stroller with a blanket. She points to her other two children who are playing on the grass. Nodding of heads. Gesturing hands. She walks off, pushing the stroller on rough terrain, expecting the hills and valleys of the park to lull her little one to sleep. Oh how that baby needs to sleep, I think. Oh how that woman needs some rest.
She is in the trenches, The Weary One.
My trench looks different now. There are no sippy cups and strollers - no nap time to contend with or diaper bags to lug around.
I sit on a bench with a cool breeze and rustling leaves surrounding me. My book is cracked open in my hands while my three girls play on the play structure below. I can hear them and see them, but they don't need me.
They don't need me to follow their footsteps and hold their hands as they navigate their way. They did once - so long ago it seems. Somedays it feels like it were yesterday.
"Yesterday" was hard. Watching a five year old explore a play structure while a chubby two year old held my hand and cautiously climbed ladders and steps. All this while holding an infant in my arms. My arms were so full.
Those arms worked hard. There was much to do. Amazing what women can do - what I did. Creating adventure for a five year old while creating experience for a two year old while creating nourishment for the tiny baby nursing at the very same time. I can't do this, I'd say quietly to myself somedays. Louder on others. The worst was when I couldn't say it at all.
Yes, my trench looks different now.
I am reading my book at the park. My girls are together. They are laughing and playing. I glance up to watch them. Soaking in the beauty that their lives weave together. "Watch me, Mom". "Look at me." This is the refrain I hear. And so I do. I watch and I look. I clap and I "ooooh and aahhhh". They are amazing - these girls with the strong legs, sun-freckled skin and wind-swept hair.
The Weary One comes back. It is hard to concentrate on the book I am reading. I see her push her stroller back to her tribe on the grass. Her baby is sleeping. She settles down onto the ground and her arms soon become full with another - one of her young sons. He rests on her as she shares a laugh with her comrades in the trench with her. How lonely it would be if she were alone, I think.
I see you. I want to say.
I see you there in your trench. You think no one does, but I do. I see your full arms and your tired, weary face. I hear their cries and their objections to sleep. I see you. I see you.
My trench does look different now. It's my mind that is now full.
I want to save them,
connect with them,
I close my book and call my girls. We're going home. I expect I'll be in the trenches for awhile.