The Mall Playground

On Sunday, Jake and I hit a wall of summer exhaustion.  The summer is a really busy season for us, sometimes it feels like we’re just ships passing in the night.  We’re coming down the final stretch of uber-busyness and our weariness is starting to be evident.  All afternoon we were pretty much battling for who could doze off on the couch while the kids climbed all over the other one.  I don’t think anyone really won, but Jake did make me a sandwich while I was half asleep under my Snuggie.

Around 4:30 we decided that there was no way either of us were making dinner and that our poor kids needed an outlet for their pent up energy since was too hot to send them outside for more than five minutes.  So we decided to head over to the Galleria to let the kids play and grab a bite to eat.

The playground at the Galleria is on the third floor.  I don’t know if you’ve been up to the third floor at the Galleria lately, but it’s hot.  The ceiling of the mall is all glass and I’m pretty sure it’s about 80 degrees up there.  The temperature inside the playground circle itself is approximately 87 degrees.  The combined stench of urine and BO is overpowering and the chaos of approximately a zillion children inside is daunting.  But what I noticed the most about the playground that day was the overall sense of unity brought about by the collective exhaustion of all the parents therein.

You see on a normal weekday morning at the mall playground you have several different kinds of parents.  You have the over-protective parent who follows every step of their child and winces every time they come within three feet of another child.  You have the dad who has the day off from work and brought the kids to the mall so he could read the paper.  You have the nannies who brought their employer’s children to play, you have the normal mom watching from the sidelines, and then you have the mom who is utterly exhausted.  We’ll call her exhausto-mom.  This mom is zoned out, staring into space and completely unaware that her child is either hurting other children, trying to escape the premises or screaming by himself in a corner.

Inevitably, there will be a group of moms (never the dad, who is of course reading his newspaper in blissful ignorance) looking down their noses at exhausto-mom in judgment.  They are most likely whispering amongst themselves about how they can’t believe she’s not paying attention to her child etc.  Meanwhile exhausto-mom only comes to for a few seconds when someone benevolently brings to her attention the fact that her child is now making a mad dash for Bath and Body Works.

But Sunday was different.  On Sunday as I surveyed the perimeter of the playground I realized that almost every mom in the circle was doing the exhausto-mom stare while their husbands were in the thick of the madness keeping watch over the children.  I was no exception.  There were many ages, races and nationalities represented but we had one thing in common.  We were all spent.  It was Sunday afternoon and there wasn’t going to be any more time to relax and recoup before Monday.  The weekend was over and none of us felt refreshed.  We all had kids with more energy than we could remember losing.  And somehow or another we all found ourselves on the hot and stuffy third floor of the Galleria.  It was a non-judgmental and non-verbal camaraderie.  I stared into space briefly wondering why the European mom next to me wasn’t wearing deodorant, comforted by the fact that no one was judging me.

(I was definitely too exhausted to bring my camera or even think about taking a phone picture to share with you.  Sorry.)

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August 1, 2011 - 6:47 pm

sarah forshaw Way too funny! You are such a great writer!

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