Today is my youngest daughter’s 17th birthday and I miss my little girls. They just arent little anymore. One is in college and way too busy to call and the other is a HS senior, getting in all the lasts of everything she can before she heads off to school herself. This letting go thing is crazy. Anxious to avoid the impending empty nest — in 90 degree heat — I headed to an empty playground. Call me crazy.
This isn’t actually the playground my girls played on. That one was old and hazardous, so it was torn down a few years ago. They don’t like this new one. They’ll tell you it’s not the same. Little do they understand that it’s not the same because their giggles and laughter aren’t there anymore. Where their little feet used to scramble there are now quiet rings. Not the same rings, of course, but it’s the quiet that’s too new, too disquieting for this mother’s heart. I don’t remember the last time I took them to the park, but surely there was a last time — just as I don’t remember the last time I helped them with homework or sang them a lullaby. I’m very glad I don’t remember the last times of things. The world is weighty enough.
My girls used to love the rope climbs, no matter what park we were at. They would stretch and climb. The ropes would twist and flip, making my heart do the same.
Maybe this park doesn’t hold an appeal for my girls because of the baseball theme. They are so anti-baseball — another story for another day — but I know a few nephews who would have loved this variation on a ballpark.
As a mom of young children, springs like these below made me cringe. I would always picture fingers getting caught. As a middle aged mom of young women, I know I worried too much. I still do. What’s the saying? The more things change, the more they stay the same?
Throughout these shots I tried to imagine where little eyes would lead little feet: through cascading rings and in between knotted ropes, all under a waning sun. My heart tugs at the memory of scooping up tired children, pouring them into their strollers to head home for supper. Their work for the day was done.
And then, just as I was turning around to head out through the gate, this little guy waved at me and I heard the echos of the children who still play here. I wish my camera could have captured that.