This morning, I got a call from a good friend of mine. She’s a mom of two young kids and they are both still remote schooling. She has her hands full just keeping the balls all up in the air since she herself is home working remotely. My heart went out to her as she struggled to find a place where no child or spouse would find her so we could have an uninterrupted five minute phone call. The purpose of her call was to get details on the virtual challenge we have going on for Lily’s Pad. People from all over the country, and even a handful from across the globe, have signed up to move more over the next 30 days and my friend wanted to be a part of it. But she hadn’t even found the time to read the instructions on how to sign up, let alone figured out how to steal some minutes to head out on her own to walk or run. After a few more minutes of what was probably the only adult conversation she would have for the next few hours, we hung up. I was struck at the moment about how hard it really is to be a parent and how much of ourselves we lose in the simple act of being caregivers.
As with everything these days, all of these thoughts brought me right back to Lily’s Pad. We spend a lot of time talking about the children that will come to play in our playground. We talk about their quarantine and their isolation and how challenging it is for them to miss out on childhood. And we should focus on them because they deserve it! But behind each one of them is a tired mom and/or dad living with the same reality as these kids. And although some of the kids that will come to Lily’s Pad are probably blissfully unaware of the extent of what they are excluded from, their parents most certainly are not.
I think about some of my most cherished memories of my children. The first friend they made at school. The homerun they hit for their baseball team. The giant birthday party with every kid in the class crowding our living room. The overpriced, but so worth it, trip to Disneyland. So many of these memories are built on my kids being in school or on teams or visiting playgrounds and theme parks. I can’t imagine not having those memories, not just for my kids but for myself. Lily’s Pad will totally be for the little kiddos who will come and find their laughter and their childhood innocence. But it will also be for their parents. The ones that offer comfort for play dates that have to be missed while inwardly crying just as much for the loss. The ones that sit up late and worry and wonder if that place they took their child had been cleaned enough or if that sip their kid took from the wrong glass will make them ill. The ones who hold their breath at doctors visits, who feel every shot and treatment as intensely as it if were their own. We will be there for them too. Giving their children back their childhood and giving them back their chance to make memories.
To those that are parenting through these tough times, whether your kiddo is immune compromised or blessedly healthy, I hear you. I feel for you and I pray for you. For the parents of our future Lily Padders, I promise you the cleanest space I can manage, the kindest volunteers I can find and mountains and mountains of opportunities for you to take back your child’s childhood one peal of laughter at a time.
-Written by Dawn Garza
Director of Operations at Lily’s Pad and Prayer Warrior for all Weary Moms and Dads