Cooper and I spent a lot of time at the beach this past weekend. When we first got there I noticed another mom who looked a lot like me. My age, blonde, 3 young boys, camping. She was me. If I had to guess I would say her boys were probably ages 7, 4 and 2. I am a super observant person and I watched this mom a lot.
First, I was blown away by how good her children were. She was sitting in a lawn chair tanning a few feet away from the beach. All 3 of her boys were playing together. They were swimming and splashing and building sand castles. I was blown away. Second, she looked amazing. Makeup and cute clothes and she was sitting their reading a magazine. She would chat with the boys and then read a bit and so on. Third, she was enjoying herself. She wasn’t running or sweating. I haven’t sat down in 3 years. And I am not lying.
I instantly hated her. The flashbacks to ECFE hit me. All the moms and dads sat around and drank coffee and chatted while their kids played. I on the other hand, chased after Cooper like a lunatic preventing him from knocking over bookshelves and hitting other kids with plastic fruit. And most of the time I was unsuccessful. Mommy Fail.
Cooper was running from the beach to the sandbox and back again. He would get rocks out of the sandbox and run to the beach and throw them in the lake. And then throw sand. Normally I don’t care but this time there were kids playing. I spent 45 minutes chasing him back and forth. He didn’t want to be caught and boy that little shit is fast. He would laugh and then dart another direction. If I caught him he would scream and go limp and wiggle out of my grasp. And apparently nonverbally threatening to go on the dock is HILARIOUS. That kid!
The whole time I had an eye on this mom and her boys. Holy mother of calmness.
Again, I hated her.
Her two year old made his way to the sandbox to play trucks. Cooper made his way to the sandbox and the swing set and started throwing sand up the slide. To sum it up, I redirected and redirected some more. After an hour I was beyond exhausted.
Cooper didn’t even notice the kids around him. By this time there were probably 6 kids on the beach swimming and playing. He didn’t notice the trucks in the sandbox or the giant inner tubes. He just doesn’t notice this stuff. I would seriously give anything for him to just play. Or relax. But, he was having fun in his own way. And that’s all that matters.
I know this mom was watching me as well. I was running around like a lunatic trying to prevent her kids from taking a rock to the face. I was doing the frantic sweat.
I saw this mom a dozen more times this weekend. I saw her sitting with all three of her boys watching the fireworks. The boys were lined up in chairs. They were eating treats and laughing. Again, Jamie and I were chasing Cooper and as usual one step behind him as he threw someone’s shoes in the lake. I can’t even imagine Cooper sitting in a chair. It has NEVER happened.
Later I saw her sitting at her camper with her family while the boys played a game. They were able to have a camp fire and make smores.
My life is so different from this woman’s. I know Cooper is going to improve. I am very, very hopeful for that. But wow is it like a slap in the face to see other kids his age becoming independent and playing and interacting and growing up. Cooper is still so much like a baby. And while it’s hard for us…it’s also just plain old sad to see.