I’m sitting on a bench in Galaxyland, the theme park inside West Edmonton Mall, watching my daughter climb in a giant play place. There are bounce rooms, ball pits, mega spiral slides, and webs to climb.
I settle in, start knitting and send a text saying “I’m sitting and knitting and it’s nice! How’s your day?” But after I sent the messages I realize the sentiment doesn’t ring true.
This is the best play place I’ve ever seen and it’s built large enough that parents can accompany their children. But I can’t.
Tears well up in my eyes as I wish with all my heart that I could join my daughter. I’m not the kind of mum who wants to sit on the sidelines. I want to be in it. I hate that my body can’t keep up.
But then I’m grateful that I can keep up as much as I do. At least I can get this close. If I had a wheelchair I wouldn’t be able to enter the enclosure.
But that’s not good enough. I want to double down the slide with my daughter. I’d love to jump in a ball pit with her. I want to bounce her in the bounce rooms.
But then I realize that if she had some sort of problem I could actually make the trek to the top to rescue her. It’s comforting to know that although I’m limited I’m not entirely stranded.
But I’m sad that she has no siblings to play with. If I had been healthy we would have definitely had more children and she wouldn’t be alone.
But then I think about the rides we just did together. I’m grateful that I was able to climb aboard a horse on the carousel, and ride the little train so I could hold her hand through the dark tunnels.
But then she runs over and tells me she found a more comfortable place for me to sit and I’m sad that she feels the need to always protect me and take care of me.
But then I’m proud of how she takes everything in stride and I hope that this considerate child will grow up to be a compassionate and empathetic adult.
This little snapshot of an afternoon illustrates the battle always inside me. I compare myself to how I was and want to be and I am heartbroken. But then I compare myself to how I could be much more limited and I am grateful. And the two sides within me are at war. Heartbroken and thankful at the same time. It really is up to me to determine how I see each situation.
So I wipe away my tears and smile at my daughter at the top of the climber. I cheer her on and take her photo and tell her I am so thankful I get to be her mum.