You were waiting just like me, perched on the edge of a wall that wasn't really a bench.
It was early in the day still, but you looked like you knew what kind of special hot hell the day had the potential of delivering, and you, like me, were getting the most of the shade before the noon hour stole it away.
We sat, you and I, flanking my husband, sprawling amusement park not-yet-quite-so-crowded that we couldn't give you a little buffer. You watched me back my overloaded jogging stroller up so that it wouldn't trip up the crowd but my little passenger could still have a view.
You were alone, probably relishing the fact that yours were old enough to be out there on that ride. Maybe yours were too little to ride alone and your husband was on the ride with them. Maybe your ovaries started twitching for another. Maybe you were so happy to be past pushing a stroller around that you made a mental note to schedule a hysterectomy next week. Maybe your husband will get a surprise vasectomy text like mine did, instead.
You looked nice enough to sit close to, but we gave you a little room anyway. We didn't want to impose too closely on what might be a rare four minutes of quiet for you. But we were close enough.
You smiled when you saw my kid. People usually do. His hair has its own fan club.
You watched as I asked if he was hungry, knowing he would grow restless by just sitting, knowing we were too far from lunch and he'd want a snack soon, knowing this was my best window to get him to eat one before he got distracted by the next ride.
You watched me unzip my ultra tiny backpack that we use as a diaper bag these days. You waited for me to pull out a granola bar. Or goldfish crackers. Or an applesauce packet. And then you burst out laughing when I pulled out a full package of hot dog buns.
Thank you. Thank you for laughing at my kid's buns. Thank you for seeing the ridiculousness that is parenting. When your kid is going through a phase where you for sure know that he will eat a hot dog bun (and sometimes the hot dog, but never together) so you throw a whole package of them in just for him. When you sail past that point in your mom career where you care about people judging you for it, but you realize that someone not only not judging or scolding or other-mothering, but actually laughing at it with you makes your day...it's the highlight of your day.
And that day had some pretty high highlights.
Our family was the first through the gates. I'm fairly certain that's a first for us, and maybe won't happen again ever in this lifetime. My sister in law cracked a Lampoon's Vacation Wally World joke about it being closed and half the internet believed her.
That same sister in law donkey kicked me in the vagina as a prize for waiting in line for seventeen hours to ride a tube down a tunnel (not my vagina) for 36 seconds where she demanded the entire time that my husband should immediately "turn this tube around" because she believes he has the strength of a hundred elephants (he only has the strength of about seven elephants because he skipped arm day at the gym last week).
That same sister in law and I were the lowly lollygaggers of our group and as a prize had delivered to our feet one bikini clad lady-person who nobody in the crowd seemed to be bothered by, because apparently if you're having too much fun in the water the lifeguards get all whistle-happy, but if you suddenly go from being vertical to completely horizontal and el-no-respondo on the concrete with bloody knees and two old ladies waving their arms about, it's like "Oh, you silly sillies and your little sorority girl flippy flop over there. Carry on."
It was eventful. We owe a huge thanks to my brother in law and his company for arranging such a special day and including us. We owe a huge thanks to my MIL and FIL for dragging their camper to give everyone a home base.
And to you. For such a small gesture. You have no idea how much it means to me that you laughed at his buns.
Thank you. Really. There were a LOT of parents there, from a LOT of different backgrounds, all doing things differently with one goal: to have fun and get home in one piece. We did that at almost Midnight. And my curly-haired cargo woke me up early again today, like usual. And as my coffee brewed, I thought of you and I wonder how you're holding up today.
Solidarity, sister-mother. Solidarity.