Girlhood. Momhood. Lifehood.
Insights on navigating the craziness of life with young kids one — “large coffee with skim please” — day at a time.

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Playgroup

May 9th, 2010

I sat in the cafeteria at my daughter’s preschool on Friday, in a bright and sunny church and loved every minute of their annual Mother’s Day Tea. We were given homemade placemats, goodie bags and potted plants. We were treated to three songs, the last of which ended with little hands blowing kisses to the audience.

Heart-melting adorable stuff.

It was a wonderful day because of that, and because my daughter kept proclaiming all week, “Happy Mother’s Day Mommy!,” as if it were my birthday.

I’ve been thinking about my fellow mothers a lot lately, not only because of Mother’s Day, but I’ve been missing them due to an uber-hectic schedule, and also because a big part of my beloved Momtourage, my Friday afternoon playgroup, is quickly nearing (insert deep breath here while eyes well up) “graduation.”

For the past few years, 10 of us gals have met faithfully once a week with our preschool age kids (nearly all of whom will start kindergarten in the fall). Every Friday, at 1pm sharp (barring a volunteer commitment, travel, or stomach bug) our minivans and SUV’s pull up. We drop little shoes in the hall, and the kids head straight for the toys – we head straight for the coffee. If you’re hosting that week, you fire up the java pot, put out the cream, milk and sugar, plop some juice boxes and nut-free snacks on the table, and we’re good.

And every Friday the topics we discuss, with our hands wrapped around our coffee mugs standing in the kitchen or seated around a living room sofa, are varied. We cover everything from our kid’s summer camp schedules, to fashion dilemmas (I asked of the group this week, “Is my hair too long? Should I cut it?” The group consensus was no). We have heated discussions on tantrum management, fear of swim lessons, the latest Disney movie, who’s got Wii, where to get the best pedicure, who’s doing what for the weekend, who knows a good landscaper and stuff that, well, I’m not at liberty to even mention. We celebrate each other’s first communions and milestone birthdays and new haircuts, and tease those who get speeding tickets. We swap books and fancy shoes and the kids’ old ballet slippers and baseball pants. Most weeks there are lots of laughs, but sometimes someone may need to shed a tear or two (both kids and moms).

Some of us met years ago, some of us were acquaintances before we casually started our Friday gatherings. But regardless of how it started, it just works. We air out our parenting dilemmas, get coveted advice and vent our frustrations without restraint. And we have a rule (as hinted to previously) that personal stuff discussed in playgroup, stays in playgroup. It’s quite awesome actually.

And underneath all the coffee talk, we all, I think recognize that we have become somewhat of a Board of Directors of the 10+ little people screaming with delight in the basement playroom below us. And we take our job very seriously.

We are friends, companions, and teammates, soldiers even perhaps, in motherhood.

Case in point:

If one of us or anyone in our immediate family is sick or injured, an impressive and swift operation is launched, and we are deployed to deliver food, babysitting, rides or just comforting words.

If you surprise the group with the news that another new baby is on the way, we will jump up and down and hug you and feel your belly every week.

If you need a buddy for a power walk one afternoon, done.

If you host a fundraiser, we not only show up, we help set up.

If you need to know if a new dress works, you bring it one Friday and model it and we’ll give you an honest opinion and then loan you a necklace to go with it.

If you post pictures on Facebook, we will comment and “ooh” and “ahh” over recital and vacation pics.

If you are running late for school pick up, someone in playgroup will already have noticed your child looking lonely with their backpack, and is sitting with them, given them a big reassuring smile, calling your cell phone as you pull into the parking lot. But they won’t get you on your cell because you are already talking to another playgroup member who is just steps behind the first one, already on the task of finding your child before they get upset that mommy isn’t there yet.

If you lose someone you love, we will grieve with you and for you.

We fix scraped knees and bruised egos. We heal our kids and every week, we strengthen and heal each other.

We know we are lucky. I don’t know how you can put 10 different women together and it just clicks. We were thrown together simply by the timing of our motherhood and a common zip code.

We are Catholic. We are Jewish. We are Protestant.
We are blonde and brunette.
We are 30ish. We are 40ish.
Some of us finish triathlons together.
Some of us make the most incredible multi-colored cupcakes you have ever seen.
Some do both (I know, right!?)
We take coffee with cream.
We take tea with milk.
Some of us are entrepreneurs or run a business unit. Some of us rock the PTA.
We are shy. We are the life of the party.
We have gone to reunions and laughed that we were once teenage rebels or queen of the swim team, or that we had very big hair (well, I still do).
We grew up blocks away, or halfway across the country.
We are all so different.

But we are all incredibly efficient, and caring to each other, and we don’t pull any punches. We laugh at our most trying parental moments (following the school bus to school to make a morning argument right) and silly antics at holiday parties. We celebrate first tooth fairy visits and karate belts.

And every Friday at 3pm, with empty mugs placed in the sink, we depart as a convoy, off to get our older kids off the bus or to gymnastics…having spent two hours laughing, learning and building this team called playgroup.

Oh lordy.

I will really miss our Fridays and the safety net of seeing those gals every single week. I will miss the coffee.

Note: And I love that they will all totally razz me for writing this and recognizing this milestone that we promised we wouldn’t make a big deal of (sorry gals, I love ya).

But it will, in fact, be the end of an era.

But I also know that we will get together when we can, and simply move our discussions to coffee shops or diners or someone’s back deck (with a bottle of wine on the table perhaps). The topics will evolve…to grades, try-outs and school dances. And our lives will change. Our schedules will change, we will have unexpected highs and lows. But what we’ve built for each other and for our kids (not to mention the “Anti-teenage shenanigans” patrol that we already have in place) is here for the long haul.

We may be done with our Fridays soon.

But ladies, trust me, playgroup is just getting started.

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