This week I had the pleasure of reconnecting with some very special people. When I got Suzanne’s e-mail suggesting that our old playgroup get together for lunch, it hit me. It’s been 10 years since this particular group of women rescued me from the choppy waters of baby life.
Don’t get me wrong — I was treading water fine. Two boys under 17 months. Working from home about 10 hours a week. Still tenuously connected to my theatre company. Plenty of support from my husband and our families. But I knew I was being pulled out to sea. I was losing hold on the life I thought I knew. Who was this new person? I couldn’t focus on anything but keeping these little boys alive and happy.
I faithfully attended Mommy & Me classes just like I had with my oldest son, but this time with a toddler in tow. It was all more complicated, harder. Those days, I felt like a piranha – the only woman I knew with kids so close together. People either assumed they were twins (proof that people see what they want to see) or stared at me, mouths agape, wondering why I would choose to have sons so close in age.
When the gorgeous and exotic Ana invited us all to her house for lunch after the last class, I was thrilled to be included. We laid our babies in a circle, ate lunch, took pictures, traded stories and asked questions. Most importantly, Suzanne gathered all our e-mails. It was the start of something very special.
Without any formal structure, we launched a playgroup. Suzanne merged the names and e-mails from the moms in a couple of her classes and once a week, we each took a turn hosting the gathering of moms and kids — different times, different places, different formats – but the same core group anchoring me.
Within that community, I knew I would find sympathy, advice, laughter and perspective. Far from feeling awkward, my playgroup friends accepted my two kids without question. In fact, they boosted my confidence often as they turned to me as a mom who “had been through it once already.”
I still marvel at this group’s random beginning. We are all so different. We lived in four different towns. Some worked outside the home. Some were home for the first time. We are the parents of boys and girls. We live in houses large and small. Our children are biological and adopted, single and multiple. We are black, white, Hispanic and Asian, Christian and Jewish. We spoke to the kids in a variety of languages, accents and dialects.
Motherhood trumps all of these distinctions. Sleeplessness knows no ethnicity. Food allergies have no religion. And first steps are marvelous in any size house. Over time, the moms were the ones in a circle as our babies first crawled, and eventually ran, around us. But we still ate, took pictures, traded stories and asked questions. We buoyed each other in rough times. We celebrated each other’s triumphs and we marked milestones together.
And, inevitably, we drifted apart. Kids started preschool. We had more babies. Schedules no longer permitted us to gather during the day. Instead, we transitioned into a monthly “Moms Night Out” group, which was fun in a whole new way. But that too eventually melted away.
Only 7 of us were able to make the lunchtime reunion, at which we ate, traded stories and asked questions (no pictures though). Once again, our common bond overshadowed our many differences. Once again, we shared our triumphs and challenges. These same women threw me a life-preserver as I talked about my trepidation at the “next phase.”
I will carry all of these friends in my heart no matter if I see them weekly, monthly, or once every few years. I thank them for the many rescues. I treasure our shared journey.