Mothering/Momming

I find summers difficult because on top of the heat and busyness there’s a pressure to make every moment count. It feels like I’m supposed to do all the things – go to the beach, splash pad, park, cottage. Have picnics, play dates, quality time.

And I want to do it all. I want to be that mum – the one who rocks at summer. I had one of those moms. We did all the things and I never realized how much energy it takes to be on the parental side of that.

Mother and daughter wearing matching dark blue dresses.

Matching dresses.

This summer though instead of feeling frustrated, I’m feeling grateful. Grateful that I’m able to keep up better this year and actually do many of the things, but really grateful to the other moms who step in and carry some of the summer load.

Close up of two arms, an adult’s arm with a real tattoo of green and yellow flowers, and a child’s arm with a temporary glitter tattoo of green and yellow flowers.

Matching tattoos.

Because our family lives far from us so we’ve had the need, and opportunity, to cultivate some really strong friendships here in our city.

I have one friend in particular that I refer to as my “life wife” because we partner daily and live life together.

Through her family I’ve inherited an entire neighbourhood of friends. We have backyard barbecues and pizza parties and impromptu afternoon chats in the front yard. The kids run wild from house to house, zigzagging across the street, splashing in pools, skipping, riding bikes and generally being very loud.

A girl on a scooter and boy on a bike ride down a residential street past houses.

My daughter spends her days there while I’m at work and we were chatting one day about the differences she sees in that household versus our own. We established that I’m more of an inside mum while my friend encourages lots of outdoor play. My daughter explained “that’s just how her momming is.”

True. And I’m so appreciative of her “momming.” And of all the other parents who contribute to my daughter’s childhood.

A young girl crouches in the forest while a chipmunk eats out of her hand.

I’m often sent photos of the adventures they’re having while I’m at work and it fills my heart with joy to see my girl out in the wild, feeding chipmunks, and exploring defunct railroad tracks.

A girl wearing a T-shirt with sharks on it balances on a railroad track. Other children in the background also walk along the track.

My friends take her apple picking, cherry picking, and strawberry picking. With them she practices searching for caterpillar eggs, bike riding, and fort building.

A 7 year old girl smiles at the camera and holds up a leaf with a tiny white caterpillar egg on it.

As a disabled mum I am so grateful that there are people more able-bodied than me who can offer the experiences that I struggle with.

A row of children are walking through a field of long grass. The photo was taken from behind them so we see their backs as they walk single file.

Off to find a cherry tree.

Not only do they include my daughter in their adventures but they support me to join in as well.

A 7 year old girl smiles at the camera while crouching in a strawberry field, holding a basket of strawberries she has picked.

When I wanted to go camping last summer they made it work. When I wanted to go to the beach they physically helped me walk back to shore when my legs gave out in the water. When I wanted to go for a forest walk they chose a steady path and pace, then sent the kids into the woods to play for a bit while I rested before starting the trip back home.

A 6 year old girl sits in a hammock and makes a silly face at the camera.

I’m feeling especially grateful today because I’m realizing all that I have lost.

My “life wife” and her family left this morning to move 10 hours away. It’s not permanent, and we’ll see them in a few months, but it leaves a big hole in my life. I’m grieving that loss.

But.

While I grieve I can also celebrate – celebrate the friends who are still here, celebrate the adventure and opportunities for my friends who are moving, celebrate the fact that I have such a nurturing community to be part of.

Anyone, disabled or not, would be lucky to have people who love like this.

Three women, close together, smile at the camera. It’s sunny outside and there are trees in the background.

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