Every afternoon, about ten minutes before 3pm, they are there. I can see them from the end of the trail as I walk in to take my place in the playground lot to pick up my son from kindergarten. At the end of the trail, right near the blacktop that is painted with foursquare grids, there is a shade tree. There’s only one shade tree on this side of the school and on still hot September afternoons, it is a sought after spot for moms waiting to pick up their elementary school kids.

The shade tree is always occupied well before I walk in at 2:50pm. There are a few other kindergarten moms there, with their double strollers and squealing toddlers. They wear babies and give their preschoolers a snack while they wait for their kindergartener. These few moms, with their full strollers and needy babies, take up the shade of the shade tree.

Somehow, in the course of only a month of kindergarten pick-ups, I have deemed myself unworthy of the shade tree.

Surely I don’t have anything in common with these moms who are still in the thick of toddler years when my son is in kindergarten. Surely I don’t deserve the shade as much as the moms with crying babies and sticky toddlers. Surely these moms don’t want to talk to an infertile lady like me.

I wonder often on my quick walk to pick up my boy if today will be the day that I finally stand under the shade tree with confidence. If that afternoon will be when I am brave enough to strike up a conversation with these ladies or am content enough to say “we have one son” instead of something like “oh, we just have one”.

So far, I haven’t been brave enough or confident enough. Instead, I take my place on the hot blacktop, just a few feet away from the door where my brave and confident little boy runs out to greet me as soon as the bell rings. And in that moment, in that precious after school hug, I forget all about the shade tree. Because after a long and full day of kindergarten, he just wants a hug from his Mama. And that is much more important that 10 extra minutes of shade and small talk.

But one day, before Christmas break, I’m going to stand with the shade tree moms at least once. I have nothing to be ashamed of, as raising one son is the most challenging and best thing I’ve ever done. It doesn’t matter that I don’t have a stroller full of siblings for him, I’m still a mom and deserve some shade too.

I will conquer the shade tree and no one will know what an accomplishment it is except for me. But I will be proud of it nonetheless.

Blogger: Haley Burress