To the fellow mom of two who saw me break down with my two kids at the water park and stopped to help. Thank you so much. You were literally the answer to my prayers at that time. You have no idea what your kindness means to me.
You also had no idea that I was looking forward to that outing for quite a while. Our entering-kindergartners and our families were invited to have some fun with free admission to the water park that evening and we both brought our little ones to do just that. What you don’t know is that that was a big deal for us, something we don’t get to do often. We have no pool membership, my kids have never had swim lessons, we never get to go to theme parks or water parks so I couldn’t wait to do this with my family. Unfortunately my husband’s back was out that day and he couldn’t come with us. I guess I had no idea how difficult it would be to go by myself with my almost-5-year-old and my 14-month-old or at least I didn’t consider it because I didn’t want to miss this opportunity and went anyway.
We had had a pretty good day until we got to the park and everything fell apart. My 5 year old was afraid of everything – primarily the water being sprayed or poured and any small bug he saw. My toddler wanted to walk around the splash pad but my older one didn’t. I have a huge fear of my kids drowning and get nervous whenever they are around water. It was so hard to keep my eyes on both of them and meet both of their needs at the same time. It was impossible, actually, so one or the other or both was crying most of the time, and I shed a few tears as well out of frustration and sadness. Sad that my big boy wanted to go down the water slide but was too scared of the water falling on the steps to get up there. Sad that he was scared of so many things. Sad that I couldn’t give him the attention and supervision that he needed because I had to hold my toddler the whole time too. Then guilty for feeling sad that he wasn’t able to have fun like the other kids there. Eventually they both were able to have some fun in the shallow end for a while, but around 7 I decided we needed to start trying to leave. We had already stayed longer than I had anticipated. My kids hadn’t eaten in a while and my toddler hadn’t nursed in an even longer while and had only had a short nap that day. I had no plan for dinner and couldn’t afford or manage to feed them at the park. And we had a 35 minute drive to get home.
My big kid did not want to leave and acted accordingly. I tried everything I could think of to get him to come willingly but nothing worked. By 7:20 we had made it back to the chair where we had put our stuff and were sitting in a heap of tears and frustration, all three of us crying, and I’m pretty sure other people staring. It must have been a sad sight and I was embarrassed. I had said a prayer aloud for God to help me in that moment because I couldn’t manage it and I didn’t know what to do. Shortly after that as my son was walking away from me towards water deeper than he is tall, you walked over to me, wearing your months-old second-born in your baby carrier, and offered your help and support and words of understanding. You offered to watch my son for 5 more minutes while I had a breather and got our things together and I accepted, not knowing what else to do. I knew I could trust you to keep an eye on him for a few minutes, thinking that your husband was probably keeping an eye on your big kid while you did. The whole time I had been thinking that all I needed the whole evening was a second set of eyes to watch my son. I’d been thinking that if my husband had been with me, he would have helped my son be a little more brave, a lot more well-behaved, and probably have a lot more fun. By some miracle you were able to bring him back to me after a few minutes, still whimpering although no longer crying or screaming, helped walk him towards the exit, and even returned his life vest for me too while I struggled with my squirmy daughter and our huge bag full of stuff. Once we were finally outside the gate, it took a little bit more calming, a little bit more distraction, and a promise of teddy grahams to actually make it to the car but by 7:50 we were finally pulling out of the parking lot. My kids were so exhausted they slept the whole way home and I had time to decompress.
So, Whitney, mom of two with short brown hair and a calming southern drawl, I don’t know you, but thank you so much for your help and your kind words. You asked how you could help and understood when I couldn’t even think of an answer. I didn’t know what I needed and you understood and did something anyway. Apparently that was all I needed. Someone else to step in and lend a hand, give a compliment, a reassuring word or two, and a five minute breather. I’m not sure I have ever done this for another mom. I’m not sure I’ve been in a situation where I felt I could be of any real help or that I would know what to do. Maybe you didn’t know either. Maybe you were a little nervous to come over and get involved, but you did it anyway and it did help. I’m so thankful you were there. Thank you for showing me a beautiful example of loving thy neighbor. I hope that I can pay it forward someday.