"Are they yours?" the young woman pushing a double stroller occupied by a baby and a toddler motioned toward Bug and Boo as she joined us at the park.
"And so it begins," I thought. "She thinks I'm the grandma." It is possible. I just always hope it's not people's first impression!
"Yes, they're mine. The big one just turned six and the little one is three."
As the conversation continued I realized that she's not the mom of the little girls she was tending--she's the nanny; maybe that's what she was had in mind (and not that I look too old to have such little guys!).
I suppose I shouldn't have been any more surprised that she wasn't sure if the boys were mine than I was to find that the girls weren't hers. I forget sometimes that when we go to that park in the middle of a workday there's a better than 50 percent chance that the other kids are being tended by a nanny or a granny or someone other than a mom or dad.
Usually, if you watch for a little while, it's kind of obvious when the grown-up and child don't 'belong' to each other. Cultural and language differences are a giveaway, but most often there's a difference in interaction that makes it clear. There's a degree of detachment and sometimes indifference--on both sides--that shows when there's a surrogate or substitute involved
I hope that if someone watches long enough, they'll know from the nature of our relationship that I am Bug and Boo's mom and not a hired caregiver. I hope first impressions prove I'm engaged and attentive, interested and involved, committed and caring. And I hope that their responses and interactions with me show that they're confident and secure and happy in their relationship with me as well. I want people to know we 'belong' to each other.
I wonder sometimes if it's clear whose child I am. Whether it's a casual encounter at the park, or a long-standing friendship, is my relationship with my Heavenly Father evident? On first meeting, would a new acquaintance know?
When I was in high school I befriended a new student. As we walked home one afternoon, talking of typical high school topics, he said, "You're a Christian, aren't you?" It was much more a statement than a query.
He caught me really off-guard because I never was very outspoken and knew it wasn't our conversation itself that would have led him to that conclusion. When I asked what made him think so, he responded with something like "You're just different." At that age, being "different" is usually the last thing a shy, insecure girl would want to be, but somehow that was not at all insulting.
I'm still not especially outspoken (most of the time), but I do hope that wherever I am or whatever I might be doing, that a casual observer would know who I 'belong' to.