We Are Both Right

Taking a Pass on the Mommy Playgroup

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Watching my children play and playing with them is a joy. Having to socialize around that, not so much.

I will admit that I have been slow on the uptake with modern day parenting protocol. Playdates, playgroups — it’s all so formal and orchestrated. Whatever happened to the days when you would run up to your mom on the corner at school at dismissal time, and ask if your best friend could come over and play?

It was all so spontaneous — and unlabeled.

Now we have to schedule “playdates” and abide by the playdate rule book of bringing an approved snack and inviting mom in for coffee on the first few dates.

To me, playgroups just sound like a quota on playdates, which is why I have remained uninitiated. I didn’t do the sorority thing in college, and yet was far from a loner. Instead, my friends and I came up with our own harebrained schemes that were unscripted (like scaling buildings, for instance) but without a pledge sister telling us what was expected. I guess it’s the same reason why I have avoided the structure and intimacy that playgroups seem to command.

With our family’s schedule, and a full-time job outside of the home, I probably wouldn’t be a very dependable playgroup friend anyway. I can barely find time to sleep, let alone coordinate my schedule with a dozen other women on a regular basis. I feel guilty enough that I don’t get to see my friends of 20 or 30 years as often as we would like because of everyone’s hectic schedules as the kids get older.

Lately though, I have been hearing more about the playgroups that my longtime friends belong to which started out as mommy and baby groups and have matured into deeper friendships as the children got older. It sounds nice — the girls’ weekends away, the joint trick-or-treating trips, holiday cookie swaps.

I wonder though, at some point does it become more about the moms than the children? What if your child doesn’t like the other “friends” in the group? What happens when they go to different schools and make new friends? Do they still have to be pulled back into that playgroup because that’s where your friends are? Or do you ditch the “play” aspect of it, and just meet as moms?

Things change, and my opinion on this might too, if I happen upon a group someday that naturally comes together. Maybe it will be different if I find myself bonding with other moms at L.’s weekend football games or at S.’s preschool. But in the meantime, I won’t be going out looking for a mommy playgroup to join and instead spend the time playing with L. and S. — and maybe even letting them have more playdates.

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