Pour Your Heart Out: The Sitting Moms

One… two… three.


The non-stop headcount done by this mama of three young boys whenever we are out anywhere. The one that occurs even more often at some place like a waterpark, where we spent the past two days.

20130122-191113.jpg The boys had an absolute blast and I enjoyed our time, too.

But it was also freaking exhausting.

Not just the stress of making sure not to lose any of three, but making sure not to lose them when were were somewhere where they could possibly drown. And even if they were right there with me, it was still up and down stairs to slides, carrying inner tubes and mats, then swimming around and constantly keeping an eye out. Totally exhausting.

While my family was taking a snack break (aka everyone sitting down at the table so I wasn’t worried about counting heads), I had a chance to look around.

And I saw moms who got to just SIT THERE.

Most of the sitting moms weren’t even in bathing suits. A few may have had them on underneath cover-ups, but the rest were in regular street clothes.

Some had books in hand.

Others were working away on tablets.

Still others were gathered in groups, chatting away.

The occasional one with eyes closed, possibly napping.

And I mentally tabulated how many years it would be until I could be one of the sitting moms.

When we could go somewhere like a water park and I could show my boys the table where I would be sitting and just let them head off by themselves. With instructions to come find me if they needed me and to check in at a certain time or after a certain number of slides. And my hair wouldn’t be wet and I could stay in my regular clothes, keeping my swimsuit in my bag.

No standing in lines for slides, no getting splashed, no running around. I could pull out a book or catch up with work or even rest my eyes and do absolutely nothing at all, without fear that someone would get hurt or lost.

It sounded so peaceful, to be able to be one of the sitting moms.

I sighed as I realized that day is still so far off.

But then my boys pulled me back to them with their excited chatter of what they wanted to do next and what they absolutely had to try again because it was the best ride ever and who would get to sit by Mommy on the big tube slide.

And I realized that even though this time in their childhood can be absolutely exhausting, it’s also pretty magical.

They’re excited over every little thing- no eye rolling in the 8 and under set.

They want me along with them and will even fight over who gets to ride with me.

And I catch a glimpse of one of the sitting moms and wonder what her teens would do if she were to go change into her swimsuit and join them and their friends. Something tells me that even with the sweetest of teens, they wouldn’t muster up the excitement of my little boys- and there might be some eye rolling involved.

So I’ll try to remember to enjoy these years when my boys need me right with them to join in their fun.

Even if I did collapse from exhaustion at the end of each day.

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  1. says

    I have to remind myself of the same thing when I can’t pee alone. And there’s no time to change clothes or fix dinner or play bills after work because K NEEDS me to play choo choos with him. Some day…I won’t be his #1 playmate, or hero, or best friend. So while it is a lot of work, and no sitting is involved…choo choos and giggles and chase win out as long as he’ll let in.

  2. says

    a few weeks ago I took just the boys (8 and6) to the park and it was so nice! I actually sat and read and didn’t have to chase anyone around….
    I couldn’t believe how lucky some moms are…sigh…
    but I had two cute girls waiting for me at home, so it’s all worth it
    Not a Perfect Mom recently posted..How To Lose Weight In 2013My Profile

    • Shell says

      We’re at the point where I can sit most of the time at parks. It’s so much more enjoyable when I don’t have to chase them around, I have to admit. 

  3. Becky Kopitzke says

    I can relate to this so well. Last fall, my girls had the time of their life whizzing down the tube slide at a famous waterpark. And I spent all three days exhausted, with a headache. But I hardly remembered that part until I read this post. I came away with happy memories of my girls sitting in the tube with me, smiling and shrieking, then laughing while we held hands and climbed the 6 million stairs to the top of the slide again. We’ll have our day to sit soon enough, Shell. Until then, let’s count ourselves blessed.
    Becky Kopitzke recently posted..When Left to Their Own DevicesMy Profile

  4. says

    Aw. I love when my kids fight over me. I feel special. And sometimes when they both are fighting over me and I get annoyed and just want two seconds of PEACE…I try and remind myself that my kids won’t always want me around. So I try to cherish those moments.
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    • Shell says

      There are times I’d like to go hide in the closet so they can’t find me because I need a moment of peace. I suppose it will be soon enough when they are hiding away in their rooms to get away from me. 

  5. says

    Oh I so needed this reminder today. I was just thinking today how nice it will be when I can sit down to eat and not be asked a million times to do this or that. I know though, one day, Ill miss it.

  6. says

    I love this Shell, so very much.

    I am in awe of those moms sometimes, but I don’t think I will ever truly become one.

    And I think I am okay with that. :)

    I linked up today but looks like my link back to you is broken, I am in bed so I will fix in the am!
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  7. says

    I always think that too and while it will be nice to sit once in awhile, I want to be the type of mom that jumps right into the water with the kids. My husband once said to me ‘you can be the mom that stays behind on our camping trips and adventures when the boys get older or the one that joins us.” And from then on, I always said I’d be the mom that joins them…I don’t want to miss out! :)

    • Shell says

      Love that attitude. I want my boys to have memories of me doing things with them, not just sitting on the sidelines.

  8. says

    You are a great mom for playing with your kids! They will remember these moments and they will know how loved they are. And those sitting moms? Well, I can tell you we just stress about other things. Most of the time I am pretending to read a book or magazine, but really I am spying on my teenage daughter to see what boys she is talking to. Enjoy these moments!
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  9. says

    I know it’s tough, but enjoy your time. I’ve been a ‘sitting mom’ for a while–much easier with only one to keep track of–and while it IS lovely to relax, I must force myself to revel in it. Somehow I always think about how if things had worked out as I had planned, I would be chasing smaller kiddos too.
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  10. says

    Loved this post! I know it’s hard to believe, but some of those sitting moms were likely looking at you, thinking how great it would be if their kids were young again and wanted to be with them. My youngest is nineteen, my oldest twenty-seven. I know it’s exhausting when you’re kids are young, but it’s also one of the most rewarding times of motherhood. Enjoy!

  11. says

    We long for the day we get to just sit and watch and sometimes it’s wonderful to be out and still have some quiet time but then sometimes you long for to be needed. To need to watch our childrens every move and you even begin to miss the head count.
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  12. Cindi says

    I think this is one of your best PYHO posts Shell. As some long for the days of becoming a ‘sitting Mom’, those of us who have been sitting a while, long to go back to those exhausting water park days. (LoL) Actually, you go from sitting to standing … standing and cheering as your child walks up to recieve his/her high school diploma, or as a minister announces your child as husband and wife …

  13. says

    Whenever we’re at a playground and I’m playing the mean witch or playing tag with my 4 yo I count the years until I have the kind of parenting freedom you described. After reading your post, I think I’ll count my blessings instead (at least in between counting the years and the minutes until we head home!). Great post!
    Mary @ A Teachable Mom recently posted..Moms Need Play Dates TooMy Profile

  14. says

    oh, yes. i’d be jealous of those sitting moms too. it’s going to be a long LONG while before I get to do that. And I don’t see it as a bad thing. Sure it’s fun to hang with the kiddos and be a part of their excitement. It’s also cool to just step back and let them go. I’m enjoying their need for mom now, but I know it will be so super sweet to be a sitting mom too :) one of these days shell, I’m going to actually link up with PYHO :) 
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    • Shell says

      I go back and forth between thinking it’s nice to be needed and looking forward to the days when I can just watch from the sidelines, knowing they are okay. 

      Hope you do join in! :) 

  15. says

    Oh I go through these thoughts almost all the time. The days of being a sitting mom is even farther off for me and I dream about it often. But then, like you, the energy and excitement and wanting to be next to Mommy brings me back. There are good and bad to both phases and I’m going to enjoy the good of this one before it passes by.
    Tricia recently posted..Preschool revengeMy Profile

  16. elizabeth says

    it is all a process….a series of stages….while kids are young it is exhausting, energy-zaping, but full of priceless moments…as the kids get a little older they become more independent in little stages. Every mom has a different interpretation on the stages and ages of independence. One suggestion I would make to moms of boys…look into hiring responsible young men for outings, activities, and babysitting….a ‘manny’….i found several wonderful young men that were always willing to climb the ladder, carry the equipment, and keep a very close eye on my boy. THe boy felt like a “big kid” because mom wasn’t there but in actuality he was being watched and cared for by a very capable young man. JUst a thought, and it may work for other moms of boys….

  17. says

    Oh I know how you feel! The boys didn’t nap yesterday and we spent the ENTIRE day together with no break. But how long before they won’t want me to be around them? I have to remind myself, the days are long but the years are short. And I have to soak it up while I can. Hope you guys had fun! 
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    • Shell says

      Today has been a long day here, so I’m wishing the years would fly. But trying to remember to keep the perspective of enjoying every day. 

  18. says

    This is such a great reminder for me this morning. The kids wanted to watch a movie, and I had work to do, so I agreed. The movie is on, but now they want to snuggle and ask a million questions, and I was feeling frustrated about not being able to get any work done. But you’re right: they won’t want this sort of interaction forever, so I will catch up on blogs between the two of them on the couch (and be up too late — again!)
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  19. says

    The last time I was at a water park with my girls they were 11 and 13.  Even though I didn’t put on my suit and join them in the water, I paced the perimeter keeping watch.  They find me to be very embarrassing.  I don’t envy the sitting moms, I worry for their kids.  Or, possibly, I need a lesson in letting go. Great post. 
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    • Shell says

      I was trying to figure out how old my kids would have to be before I would be okay with being one of the sitting moms at a place like this…. and I think it’s OLD. Because it just takes a few minutes to drown. I will probably need lessons on letting go as well. 

  20. says

    sitting moms?…I love it! I am just becoming a “sitting mom” and it is pretty cool to be able not to be pulled in a thousand different directions when we are out. However, moms who get to “sit” at waterparks get to fret when their children go places WITHOUT them like middle school and parties and the internet. Thanks for the reminder to savor our time with our children.
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  21. says

    Isn’t that why there are life jackets? Just slap one of those on and let the kids play while you sit. 😉
    Jen recently posted..5pmMy Profile

    • Shell says

      That did help with some of it. 😉 But it was too big of a place with confusing stairways leading to some slides they couldn’t go on, so I couldn’t just let them roam. 

  22. says

    I know exactly what you mean. When I can’t see my two kidlets when we are at the park, beach, mall or wherever, a twang of panic sets in. I haven’t lost them yet – but I envy those moms that can just sit back and not have to worry. But I think I’m the type of mom that I’ll always worry about my kids, even when they are 30 and with families of their own!
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  23. says

    Ah yes… the constant running after or running around or running with out little ones in a frenzied state of constant RUNNING!!! i also long to be the mom who is quietly reading in the shade or talking on the phone in a carefree and non-frenzied state. But I wouldn’t trade those exhausting days for anything. Those moms had their frenzied and exhausted time too…now it is our turn. We will earn those relaxing days ahead! :)
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  24. says

    I totally understand. I was even feeling the stress when reading the ‘keeping eye on the three and making sure you don’t loose one or even worse, drawn”

    It’s funny but last night when bathing the toddler, I bathe with her! LOL I can’t let go. I left her there for 5 secs and told husband to watch her; he on the other hand ‘texting’ WTF? LOL

    “what if she drawns?” — he looked at me with a look like I’m over-exaggerating. “I’m watching her”- he says

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  25. says

    I admit that it is is fun to be in the mix with my children, but there is also a certain magic to sitting back and watching them interact just with each other or friends. That is the direction we are heading in now and I do get a lot of joy out that. I will admit that when we went to the indoor water park last spring I totally thought I was going to get to be the sitting mom – I was totally prepared! And then my children pulled me into all the activities. We are planning to go back this year and my fingers are crossed to sit this year – especially since I hate getting wet in those places! I like the hot hot sun to dry me off when I am swimming! So happy you had a fun time with your guys!
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    • Shell says

      I can imagine the joy in knowing your kids can handle themselves. As well as getting a break! 

  26. says

    What a great great reminder!  As yes, I too have found myself jealous of the sitting moms at times– but really then we will be dealing with the teen drama, bigger problems.. I think I am happy not being able to sit now
    Emmy recently posted..Loose ToothMy Profile

    • Shell says

      I think it has more to do with the ages of the kids than the number, for sure. Even if I had only had one of my kids with me, I wouldn’t have been able to sit. 

  27. says

    Such a great post, and thoughts.  I think about that a lot. I get so tired.  I’m older than you…yada, yada, yada, yada…then when I can be a sitting mom, I think how old I will be, and I will really want to sit because I want to sit now. :)  But, you are so right. It is exhausting, but can be so magical. 
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  28. says

    I am so with you!  So with you.   It’s like we’re the same person, Shell.  Playgrounds, amusement parks with three boys – exhausting!  Sometimes, I try to remember to have fun.  But so true to enjoy these moments.  There is no eye-rolling with the 8 and under set just excitement over every little thing and that’s truly awesome.  Thanks for reminding me. 
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  29. says

    I am dreading this trip to the indoor water park for so many reasons…the aforementioned drowning, the whipping of my head back and forth, the running (in a bathing suit) to the next ride, the actual act of getting in a bathing suit in the dead of winter when so many thing have been neglected for so long. I just dread it, but I still hear so many people say their kids had the best time. I’ll stil being a Scrooge for 2 days. Do they have life guards?

  30. says

    Good post. I used to think that every time I went to just the park. Although I think many moms sit who ought to be up, but that’s not my place to say. All I know is that for many years there was no sitting for me. As for waterparks, no way! My youngest just turned 5 and I think it would still be very difficult. Maybe in 2014. We went on vacation a couple years ago and the resort had this whole waterpark – just one big slide, a big lazy river with lots of little side pockets, and a big swim area. Just keeping up with all my kids in the lazy river was so hard! And I was like you – totally exhausted. I have a picture of me all slumped over reeling in yet another child. They had fun but I was kind of miserable after a while. I finally vetoed going back in to the lazy river – told all my kids to play on the splash pad and FINALLY sat by the splash pad for 30 minutes. I would like to say that it was bliss but I really felt dead at that point and I was just recovering. But you are right – those are great moments and memories for the kids!
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  31. says

    I used to be an elementary school teacher. I can completely relate to the head counting bit! I always seemed to one short when I counted and had to count again, only to find that I wasn’t one short. But by then it was too late. I was about to have a heart attack. I can’t even imagine going to a water park. I would have a heart attack! 

  32. Angie says

    Enjoy being part of it while we can! Oh too soon we will be the sitting moms and won’t be needed (bitter sweet!)