“Oh, so…you’re talking about one of your blog friends then?” Blog, drawn out to sound more like “blaaagh.”
“Well, yeah, but I know her really well,” I said. “We’re for-real friends.” I refrain from saying that we’ve been through a lot together because we’ve never been through anything together in person, and I don’t want to sound even weirder.
“But you’ve never even actually met each other,” she said. Incredulous, pitying. I imagine she’s thinking “Why do bloggers share so much online?” but don’t ask.
“I know it’s weird,” I replied, sad that writing lets me share more than I can with her at the playground, and sad for all of my in-real-life relationships. The friends I haven’t seen in too long. When we do get together, there’s never enough time.
A few of us decided it’d be fun to meet at a playground and spend some mom-time together. Get to know one another better. Playgrounds are navigated more easily when there’s another mom to talk to, especially when there’s one who accepts our kids the way they are. Even more especially back when they were so young and their issues were more confusing and we didn’t really know how they may develop or who they may become.
We chose a day and a playground, and are each excited and maybe a little nervous. We claim a picnic table, fill it with sippie cups, snacks, wipes, and hand sanitizer while the semi-trucks that our car trunks have become wait behind us in case we need to retrieve an extra pair of pants, a stroller, an umbrella, more water, more snacks, or something resembling our own type of previously-known sanity.
“Let’s let them play,” and kids play, and we let them, at least enough. They chase and ignore and are fenced in at this particular playground so that not watching each and every second starts to feel okay. We take turns looking around, locating our own. Seeing this mirrored in others helps us to further relax. While it’s not the same as my generation’s parents who let us run feral on the streets until dark each night, it feels right. Empowered, because having the other mamas there who are more talking than watching helps us to breathe.
We chat about what we’ve been up to between the multiple requests, and taking turns answering to “Mommy, watch this!” and “You forgot to look” and tears and chase and an occasional toddler smack-down in a war over sharing cheddar bunnies.
We find moments to laugh within, to talk about getting coffee or a snack soon, and field more tears, and lost coats and “Didn’t you come here with shoes??” We giggle and don’t bother looking for socks and find a coat that’s wet with the unknown because it’s not actually wet anywhere on the playground that we know of, and we bond, smile, and are in this together. We share snacks, offer ours when some are dropped in the dirt, and want to do it again while also wondering what we’ll do for the next five hours.
Suddenly and finally, it’s time to leave. The kids are done; we’re done and looking back, if there was one meaningful “It’s okay to grieve the kid you thought you’d have” sentence exchanged, it was a prolific day. The fact a few of us managed to get together at the same time at the same playground (because I’ve gone to the wrong one on the right day and the right one on the wrong day) was prolific enough.
Writers overshare and undershare. It’s how we’re wired. We write about the innermost and the scariest most. We have to write it, to process it. We want to get it out.
I want to mention that we cannot do so on-demand and if somebody were to say “oh just go on and write about what it feels like to be a special needs mom,” we’d hide in a closet for a few hours, say “I can’t,” and then draw stupid-looking pictures about being writers and shaving cats. Sometimes, we use aliens to help us figure out how to say that we wish we were younger but are too afraid to actually take a for-real wish because what if Now changed? Now changing wouldn’t be okay. We wouldn’t probably actually write about what you thought you’d want to read because it doesn’t work that way which can be sucky and weird but it is, as most things are, what it is. And here we are, drawn over and over again to sharing online, because we must and that is enough.
When it comes to sharing online… When I started this website three+ years ago now, I needed to talk and to ask and to ask again and to share what was going on with my little boy because “hey wait, your little boy does that too??” I got some of that from the playground but the thing about playground talk is that playgrounds are interrupted by kids being there. Demands for snacks and sweat-wiping and the need to referee a toddler smack-down gets in the way of actual talk.
Sharing online? Writing? For writers, writing is dumping for-real thoughts out there because we have to. Want to.
We don’t know – except through confusing stats and views and shares whether your face is behind this screen, and, if it is, we don’t know if it’s full of incredulousness, pity, amusement, or out there, nodding, smiling, and thinking “me too.” Unless you decide to tell us with a “no thanks.”
Personally, I like “me too” better as that’s what makes us all less alone being human, raising ourselves, and raising our kids who just happen to have some atypical needs.