Time had stood still: From the outdated metal monkey bars and creaky old spring-riders to the mulched ground, damp from the remnants of February snow—everything was the same as when I played here as a child.
My son went back and forth on the yellow ducky—his royal blue parka shined against the grey clouds slurring in the sky. As he went to climb the jungle gym, he called for me, “I need help, mommy. I need help.”
An obsessive documenter, I have this scene on video and often watch it on repeat. I love the sweet pitch of his voice, but I’m also drawn in by, “mommy;” a word that at the time—and sometimes even now—possesses a strange ambivalence.
Because another morning on another day, I heard him calling from his bedroom. Through the haze of my sleep, I thought the “mommy” was meant for my mom—you know, the real mom. “Oh, she’ll get him,” I thought to myself for a second, before realizing that I was the person he wanted.
And there at the playground, this time in a haze of despair, I again wasn’t the real mom—I was too broken to wear that title. My marriage and career gone, it was as if I were a faint shadow moving slowly along the wall.
But what I didn’t understand then was that for him—and through his eyes—I was, still am and will always be his mommy.
I am haunted by this warm February morning at the playground. The memory jabs at me with a dull, heavy sadness and I feel it, physically.
I hope to never again know such a day, but something tells me I will. Because I want to believe that someone will love me forever.
And then I look at the photos I took that day, watch the video yet again and realize that someone will love me forever.