Special to her

Each weekend, since I’ve been working full-time, I’ve been doing my best to track down something fun for the girls: A day trip to grandma’s, a drive up to the suburbs, a kids’ concert, an outdoor art festival. I pore through the virtual pages of Mommy Poppins and Time Out Kids each Saturday morning, wondering just how we can take advantage of the post-snow/pre-unbearable humidity weather, and all the awesome stuff for families that NYC has to offer.

(Also, it’s the way we city parents justify the cost of living here. But we have museums! But we can get Indian food delivered at midnight!)

This weekend was no different. I was browsing and bookmarking when suddenly Thalia started pecking at my keyboard keys, as she does when she wants my attention on her and not my laptop.

“Can’t we go to the playground?” she asked.

The playground? I was surprised. She goes there nearly every day with her sitter.

“Don’t you want to do something special? We can do something special today! Look, there’s a big festival on Staten Island, and we can take the ferry there and…”

“We never get to play together,” she mumbled to her feet. “We’re always doing something but we don’t play together.”

And here I was thinking that I was doing one better, always trying to track down a drop-in art class or a street fair. Not that she doesn’t love those things. Not that she doesn’t love those things a lot. But I forget that sometimes, to a nearly five year-old, going to the regular old neighborhood playground–just her and her sister and her mommy who leaves early and comes home late every weeknight–is something special.

So that’s what we did.

I didn’t take a single picture. We were too busy playing.


39 thoughts on “Special to her”

  1. What a lovely reminder about what is really important. Just Spending Time. Thanks…………

  2. I love the way you always see the big picture behind the small moments!

  3. Less is more, right? The playground is always my kids' first choice too. (“Mommy, will you be the troll under the bridge and we'll be the Billy Goat Gruffs and we'll trip trap over your bridge and you'll try to eat us up? Please?! You're the best troll!”)

  4. The timing of this post couldn't be more perfect. I've been wracked with guilt about not doing enough with my girls, but life has been so crazy lately I barely have energy. But I guess it's not about doing things with them, it's just about being with them. That's actually easy to do; it's not a big effort – it's just about hanging out together.

  5. I have a hard time remembering that the same old things can feel special to my little guy, too. I get bored of the regular places a lot more quickly than he does, of course, but sometimes I have to remind myself that all the excitement of doing something *I* think is special might not be worth it to him when he could just have the simplicity of my full attention. I love that you didn't take any pictures; that's what I tell my far-away family when they complain about lack of Shutterfly updates: we were too busy spending time together.

  6. I completely know the feeling. I too a the planning lets get it all done on the weekend MOmmy, but really most times my girls really just want some Mommy time out on the swing set; swinging and playing in the club house with me. Sounds like you girls had a blast. Happy Mothering!

  7. Awww… that sounds like a wonderful day!! I never have any pictures, partly because I can't work the camera (it's new) but mostly because I am always too busy playing to get it out!

  8. that's the thing, isn't it? figuring out how to be where they are, instead of where we THINK they should be, or where we WANT them to be? Sometimes it means “just” the playground; sometimes it means getting down on the floor and really LOOKING at the newly created lego figure. It's that whole “be here now” thing, right? Yay to you for hearing her message, and yay to her for knowing how to ask for what is important.

  9. Awww… that is so sweet. It is funny how much kids need us to notice the day-to-day stuff. Thanks for the reminder (because at the beginning of the post I was ready to start looking up all the cool things that I SHOULD be doing with my children each day too!)

  10. I so love this! It's hard to remember sometimes that LESS is MORE. And it's hard to remember how easy-to-please some kids are. We spent over $4000 last month to take our 4 kids to Disney. Do you know what my 4 year old has talked about ever since? The pool that was shaped like a giant guitar AND the chair in our hotel room that folded out into a twin size bed. I certainly don't regret the trip, but it was just a huge reminder that I don't have to bend over backwards to make her happy!

  11. Yes, Squib is always saying, “but I just want to sit in YOU lap, Mommy!” Sometimes they want so very little, but it means so very much. They just want us. No frills.

  12. How nice! For both of you! Sometimes, we forget that they want to play with us, not just be entertained.

  13. I think a lot of moms get too caught up in taking a thousand pictures of our kids. I LOVE that you just played.

  14. Love this! It really illustrates the simplicity of spending “quality time” with the kiddos.

    My 2nd grader wrote an essay that said one of her favorite things to do is go grocery shopping with me…because I act silly with her while we're in the store.

  15. Yes. Just, yes. Also a full-time work-outside-the-home mama. Also a big planner. Also regularly reminded of just how much my kids enjoy sitting at the table with me to compare crayon drawings.

    Just last week I asked my oldest daughter, 5 yrs, what she wanted to do the following weekend. She replied that she was hoping we could “hang out” and “visit with each other” (her words). I love the voice that comes from that big heart of hers, and I was delighted to do lots of visiting with her this weekend. Such a treat.

  16. This actually choked me up. Maybe because it's not just working moms who are guilty of “doing stuff” rather than “being with.”

  17. So funny. I just spent the morning prowling the internet looking for a big activity. I offered Ice Skating at Chelsea Piers, Victorian Gardens, the Bamboo Installation at the Met. Nothing doing.
    We ended up spending two hours in Barnes and Noble picking out summer reading. Books they'll actually read since they took the time to read the first few pages before selecting them.
    As we left, my son said “I though that was going to be boring. But that was cool.”
    Cool. Me. Now that they're ten, I've only got a few years left.

  18. Oh, that got me right in the ticker. Soooooo glad you got to play. 'Cause what could be better than that?

    And speaking of small children saying painful things, my daughter said last week, “You love Chandy (our dog) more than me!” Busted.

  19. Yes, thats true – my 5 year old lights up when we go to the park with her on a weekend – just the simple things are enough to make them happy!

    P.S, not to be pedantic – but isn't the word “pore” and not “pour”?


  20. As someone who does A LOT of park-time with my two kids–which starts to feel sort of ho-hum–thank you for reminding me that it is indeed special.

  21. Just as my son's favorite thing to do with both my husband and I, as well as his grandparents, is take a walk. The same walk he takes time and time again. Which is lucky for us all, because we a twelve day old baby in the house, sometimes that's all we can manage.

  22. Isn't it the best when they teach us perspective? Just when I think I'm not doing enough I'm asked “Mommy, can we have pancakes for dinner?”. I am thinking they need Super Mom whipping up gourmet meals after a 10 hour day at the office while Daddy is jetted off somewhere. You know the cool kids foods from all the latest parent mags giving them such exotic life experiences and really all they want is pancakes. Oh and I was asked if I knew how to make them since Daddy does it when he's home on Saturdays. I love my kids!

  23. And as I was recently reminded, getting the WHOLE family — mom, dad, and kids — together at the playground is very nearly unbeatable.

  24. Great post. And so true. Kids crave love and attention — no amount of money in the world can replace that feeling.

  25. Gah, I love this. Crying.

    Sprinklers and popsicles are my girls favorites right now. An hour spent drawing with sidewalk chalk. Blowing bubbles with my son. Movies and popcorn. The park.

    Sometimes it's the small things that are the most fun. Plus? It's basically free.

  26. I totally use the camera as a way to not fully engage at the playground. Didn't realize it until just now reading your post.

    Word verification wants me to type “undedly ” (as in, “today I played undedly with my kids”?)

  27. this was a very touching story i know as a city mother myself i hardly have enough time to get my errands day let alone think of things for my kids to do when i am at work , i'm recently found this company taskrabbit.com that allows busy individuals like myself to hire background check runner to do my errands and tasks for me , you can even find people to babysit its a great service and worth checking out

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