We Are Both Right

Playgroups Give Mommy a Social Life Too!

I should say up front that I used to think that playgroups were kind of lame. Unnecessary and formal, I rolled my eyes at the minivan suburban-ness that they seemed to represent.

And then I joined one without even realizing it, and now I don’t know what I would do without this amazing group of women who I’m so glad are my friends.

(Oh, and my daughter likes it too!)

(Also, I now drive a minivan, but that’s a post for another day.)

It was started about four years ago by a group of moms from my daughter A.’s preschool. You know how it is — day in and day out you are standing in line with the same people, exchanging smiles and pleasantries while you wait for your children to be done with school. Finally one day, one of the moms took the initiative and posted a sign that invited all the parents and caregivers and children in the class to meet at a local fast food restaurant that also had an indoor playground.

There was a lot of, “Are you going to go?” “I’m not sure if I want to go,” chatter amongst those in the group who were friendlier with one another, but wouldn’t you know it, on the designated afternoon over a dozen kids and their moms (and one or two dads and grandmas if I’m remembering right) showed up to eat and play and have a good time.

We haven’t looked back. Not only did the kids get along amazingly but so did the moms. And now, after a few informal get-togethers after that first time at McDonald’s, we wound up today as a group of eleven friends (moms to ten girls and one boy) who have grown to depend and count on one another for stuff little and big. And what’s great is, it’s not just the moms and daughters, but the dads and siblings too.

We’ve had a few additions over the years with other parents that some of us have “invited in” (and amazingly, no subtractions), but for the most part we’ve remained a solid core (we all shudder at the word “clique” although honestly, that’s probably what we are).

© hortongrou/svilen001/stock.xchng

© hortongrou/svilen001/stock.xchng

In the beginning the aim was simple — a regular playgroup for the kids. We’d meet once a week, either at someone’s home or if the weather was nice, a local park or beach. Everyone brought something to eat to share, but the rule was you weren’t allowed to go to the store to buy something. We did our best to be a “cheap” “no pressure” group so your contribution to the meal had to be from whatever was in your pantry. Which made for some interesting lunches, but hey — no one ever complained.

Playgroup soon morphed, and we now also have a “book club” (read: the not read the book, wine and snacks club) for the mommies and a Girl Scout troop for the girls (sorry Kenny!). We babysit one another’s children and go on vacation (and mommy weekends) with our families. We stand together when someone is having a crisis and celebrate through the good stuff. We throw birthday parties and baby showers and march in parades. We’ve seen each other at our best and our worst and yet we still marvel at how amazingly lucky we all are to have found each other. Sure, there have been differences, but in the end it always works out.

About two years ago, when my daughter started kindergarten, privately I wondered if we would last. Despite living in close proximity to one another, the majority of the girls would attend school in one school district while three (and count my daughter in this minority) of the children were in another. And with all the girls in second grade, regular playgroup meetings are a (sad) thing of the past. At such a young age, how could these friendships sustain?

As it turns out, I had nothing to worry about. Sure, A. doesn’t see all the girls on the playground every day, but when she does — Brownie meetings and birthday parties and playdates — it’s like they are all four years old once again, happily squealing and hugging one another like sisters.

My youngest son S., will turn 18 months old next week. I’m looking forward to finding a playgroup that suits us — a few neighbors and friends with young children have actually been discussing forming one. It’s something I’m excited about.

But for the record, if this playgroup also ends up having a book club, I’m going to have to insist that everyone read the book (although we can also serve wine and snacks).


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