When our babies are young, we start them in playgroups. Why? What’s the point of a bunch of small babies eating each others’ rattles and spitting up on each others’ socks? I’m sure in some way we are teaching our children early socialization skills. More importantly, the mothers are finding an outlet. We are trying to reach out to people going through the same things we are, and connecting in a way that most adults need in order to have a fulfilled life.
I spent the first three years of my eldest’s life working. Juggling babies (the second coming two years into motherhood), work and running a house was enough to keep me up to my eyeballs. “Ironically” I had much more in common with my friends who were also trying to balance it all. The only time I connected with fellow parents was when we’d get together with other families on the weekends or in baby gym. It felt few and far between.
For a million reasons, I “retired” when my oldest was three and my middle was one. Even though I was staying at home and spending time with my kids the way I dreamed of, I still felt completely unconnected to adults. Most of the parents I met, already had baby groups that started when their kids were born or routines that didn’t include squeezing me in. Perhaps that is why I started writing about all my challenges with my out of control toddler and extremely allergic baby.
Fast forward years later, and I’m completely in a groove. Three kids, schools, tons of activities – I’m a full blown mom that is so buried in her world, I practically can’t see out. I still find that the relationships I have made in this mommy world to be some of the most valuable. I wouldn’t say that the friends that I’ve made are more meaningful than the friends I’ve had my whole life or closer than the friends that I have that don’t have children. It’s just that this mommy world is so all encompassing. Sometimes it’s near impossible to see the daylight, to handle the volunteering, to balance the activities, to juggle the birthday parties or navigate the PTO scene. Without the relationships that I have gathered over the years, I’m not sure I would have survived it all. There’s something about telling a peer that you locked yourself in the bathroom to avoid the tantruming child that makes it almost livable.
I didn’t make these friends in a baby group when my baby was three months old. Much like the rest of my life, I’ve gathered them along the way. One good friend from music class, another from my son’s preschool, a good friend from the gym, etc. have sustained me. I didn’t realize how invaluable mommy friends would become in my life. Those days of playgroups may in fact have nothing do with the kids at all, and that’s totally alright in my book.