Dan, Ali and I had our first trip to the neighborhood playground yesterday. I’ve been to this playground before, but as an outsider. I’m now an official resident so I need to be recognized as a member of society. I meticulously picked her outfit; she needed to look cute, but not make it seem like we are trying too hard. It also needs to be playground and weather appropriate. It was a difficult task I know, we ended up with black leopard shorts, matching hair clip and a tank top – this is Jersey after all. Ali ditched the hair clip on the walk over and I had no back up, already we were off to a bad start. We arrived after 4PM and even though its late in the day it’s still almost 90 degrees. We’re all sweating profusely and I quickly learned that Ali’s shorts are a smidge too big and keep falling down. Couple that with lack of a hair accessory, the heat, and the new revelation that her face likes to turn bright red in blotches when she’s hot. This isn’t going so well.
Of course her first act is to slide down the slide. On our way up we see a girl about her age with her grandmother. I say Hi and they ask how old Ali is. I say “2 ½”. My husband looks at me with dagger eyes and hastily corrects me and says “27 months”! I later got yelled at because those three months make a huge difference developmentally, he thought I was purposely setting her up for failure. So now that everyone thinks she’s 2.5 Dan’s got something to prove. He keeps announcing that Ali is going down the slide and says “ONE” and Ali would follow with “to, tee” and Dan would stand by proud of his counting 27 month old. I just went with it since this was obviously all my fault. Then Ali gets daring and thinks she can walk down the slide. She slid about ¾ of the way down, stood up and face-planted on the bottom of the slide. She’s tough so I don’t react and she’s fine. If I did react she’d play for the crowd (I know she’s a drama queen). Ali was fine; not even a bruise but I heard the gasps from the peanut gallery of moms on the bench. Now I feel dubbed as a “bad mom” or “I don’t love my kid” because I don’t brush her hair, buy clothes that fit or care that she falls on her already red face. This is getting worse by the second.
I decided to move over to the swings with a much younger baby. Maybe her mom wouldn’t judge Ali’s development because she won’t know the milestones (I’m a genius). So I say hi to the mom ask the babies name and age. The mom replies “she’s 13 months” and in the same breath she says “but she doesn’t walk yet!” Have I found a kindred spirit? A mom who is so self-conscious that everyone is looking at her thinking her baby should be doing more? I told her it was OK Ali didn’t walk until she was 16 months (I didn’t share with her that Ali broke her leg, no one needs to know that). I’m so excited I think I’ve made a friend and her baby is super cute (I only befriend mothers of cute babies). These particular swings unfortunately are in direct sunlight and I’m dying; you can see the sweat pouring off my face. I tell my new friend I’m dying and going to go in the shade. She looks at me and says nervously “yeah it’s way too hot” then grabs her baby and leaves the park. What? Oh no, I think she may have read me being too hot as “you’re a bad mom for keeping your non-walking 13 months old in the sun!” Which was not what I was saying. We all decided to go home after that.
I think I should stop being so hard on myself. I don’t judge others so why should I think they are judging me? (We’re having an Oprah moment here). I’ll try the park again tomorrow, but Ill be more careful on the slide and bring back up hair accessories.