This is a picture of a rainy park. It was a dull day, constant drizzle giving way to heavier downpours. No sun. The park was deserted, but it’s a picture I love and a day I want to remember, because in its own way it was pretty special.
Spending time with Frog, on my own, is something I feel incredibly lucky to be able to do. I never take it for granted because, this time last year, I was working anything up to 80 hours some weeks, and time with my daughter was often spent bleary-eyed and exhausted. Although I knew I needed to treasure the mundane moments, it wasn’t always easy to do. Stress and exhaustion can be tricky like that.
Frog starts school later this year. A summer baby, she will be one of the youngest in her year. I will happily admit I have been fretting about how she will cope with the longer hours. Last week we decreased her pre-school days from five mornings to four because she was getting too tired. I figured, as I now work mainly from home in the hours that I choose (I do love being self-employed!) I may as well make the most of it. For the first time ever Frog will have every single Friday at home. With me. And this makes me happy. Like I said, I don’t take it for granted – I know I’m blooming lucky to be in this position.
Back to the rainy park, then. It was a special trip because of its simplicity. Just the two of us, we booted up and threw some waterproof layers on. Frog had been desperate to get outdoors. Going to the park was the last thing I fancied, with a stinking cold and the torrential rain, but I gave in and threw some wellies on.
I’m glad I did. We ran around, played hopscotch, climbed, slid and swung. I have no doubt that, as Frog grows up, this particular visit to the park will blend in with all the others. There were no amazing incidents. She didn’t meet a new friend. The weather wasn’t stunning. But we had fun and returned home happy. It’s ordinary days like these that a happy childhood make, in my opinion.
I can still remember trips to the park with my own parents when I was little. My sister didn’t arrive until I was nearly four, so I had lots of time solo with Mum and Dad. There was a weekly evening that Dad would take me to the park on my own, when my Mum was tutoring a student at our house. I can also recall lots of trips with my mum to our local park, learning to ride a bike and going on the roundabout. There’s not one particular day that I remember, but overall I look back on a general picture of happiness. There was laughter, fun, proper conversations with Mum or Dad away from the daily chores or their work.
When we decided to put an offer on the house we now live in, we took a walk around the village. I was delighted to find a park with lots of new play equipment. I think a well stocked park is a signal of a thriving community, with plenty of children and families around. It was then we knew this was the village for us.
I may not be sunning myself on a beach on the other side of the world. I may not lead a high-powered lifestyle, with champagne on tap and business meetings in New York. I may not be climbing mountains or trekking across rainforests. But you know what? I’m happy. I don’t ever spend my life thinking “What if?”. I don’t hanker after anything, apart from the occasional break in the rain. I am rich, beyond my wildest dreams.
All it takes is an ordinary trip to the park to remind me of that.