Quinn rode on my hip as we walked away from the barber shop. His fresh hairdo gleamed under the warm sun whose rays then bounced off the shiny coating of red lollipop smeared all over his fat cheeks. Continuing to chatter on about Mr. Potato Head’s recent run-in with Barbie, our fairy princess grasped my free hand as we jaywalked across Main Street and toward the park.

We could hear the children’s laughter grow louder as we approached. We walked a few circles under the gazebo and then charged full speed toward the playground. I was happy to see that the park was not only filled with children but today they all seemed very close in age to my own babes. Bonus!

One family had brought along a dart rocket. We watched as the children placed the dart on the end of the tube, then excitedly jumped on the target launching it high into the air. I was very impressed at how well such little children played together. They included others, took turns and waited… a good bit of the time.

The most interesting part of the day was certainly when one of the darts got stuck in the tree. The kids scarcely realized it was gone. There were three darts, after all. It was the mothers who wanted that dart back! I watched as they banded together tossing balls, water bottles and really anything they could hurl toward the heavens, thereby retrieving the styrofoam treasure and thus being rewarded with copious amounts of snotty-nosed kisses.

Backhanded, underhanded, from the side, from below, on top of the playground equipment and so forth and so on they tried. It had become a mission more than a passing moment. They attempted every way they could imagine but nobody could knock that thing down! One of the mothers wore a clean suit that looked fresh off the mannequin at Ann Taylor. Her stroller was brand new and her diaper bag was designer. Another wore jeans and a T-shirt. Her hair was pulled up in a ponytail revealing a flower tattoo on the back of her neck. She had brought along a bag of fast food there for her children to eat. The last was a millennial trendsetter. She was fashion forward and her daughter was too. I noticed how adorable the little girl’s fox leggings were when she stopped to pick her nose next to our bench.

They all appeared to live very different lives; each woman with a different social and economic classification. I am sure each had a unique set of convictions and standards based on a background that was all her own. I was quite entertained but also moved by this experience. These women were genuinely having fun together while working to get the dart down. They laughed at each other like they were old friends, but I could hear them introduce themselves once their bellies stopped aching.

We stayed at the park for about an hour, and the dart still hung lodged in a branch when we left. I’m not sure if they ever got it out or if they gave up. Their stamina was withering, I noticed, as we gathered our things. Sheer exhaustion was surely setting in. I hope they succeeded after all their hard work.

Motherhood is hard and I often feel alone. The challenge of guiding a young child to adulthood is enormous! Today, I was reminded of the bond that we lucky few strangers get to share. We are all just doing our best to make sure our kids feel loved and safe. Maybe we aren’t strangers after all? Maybe we are teammates.

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