I'm not much of a joiner. No clubs for me in high school. The college Greek scene wasn't my style. When it comes to groups, I'd typically rather start my own or avoid them altogether. Which is why it comes as no great surprise that I avoided joining a playgroup for over a year after my son was born.
Before becoming a mother, I'd heard about new moms getting together in groups to talk about their babies. At that time, I could think of nothing more tedious than sitting around with a bunch of strangers talking about diapers, teething and baby food. It seemed superficial to me to spend time with women I had nothing in common with other than the recent birth of our babies. Why wouldn't I just spend time with my existing friends?
I managed to hold on to this stubborn opinion until my son was over a year old. By this time I'd realized that it wasn't as easy as it once was to arrange time with my existing friends, especially the child-free ones. I needed to work them in around Lucas' nap schedule and bedtime, and that didn't often jibe with work schedules and weekend plans. More importantly, the focus of my life had changed dramatically since becoming a mother, as had my priorities. My friends and I didn't exactly want to do the same things anymore. I didn't want to get a babysitter and go out on the town. They didn't really want to sit around at my house and watch Lucas dance and play guitar.
While my priorities had changed, my need for connection with other women was stronger than ever. So finally, suspending my judgment, I called around and found a local playgroup. I told myself it was really for Lucas, and that it was time for him to start interacting with other children. I was nervous. What would we talk about? Would everyone be competing for the "best mom" and "brightest child" awards? What if I had nothing in common with these women?
Five months later, I am happy to say that my fears were completely unfounded. Here are just a few things I've learned from joining this playgroup:
- When you're a new mom, diapers, teething and baby food are compelling topics of conversation. We need to hear how other women handle the details of mothering. Over time, this is every bit as bonding as the cross-country road trip you took with your girlfriends in college. Seriously!
- Playgroups are a hive of information! It's amazing what you learn sitting around watching your kids eat each others' cheerios off the floor. Hidden parks, best deals on theme park passes, healthy ideas for toddler food and more are all there for the sharing.
- Other kids' toys are always more fun.
- As the trust grows in the group, the conversations do eventually expand beyond our functions as mothers. The more we learn about one another, the more amazed I am at my wonderful luck in stumbling upon this accomplished and fascinating group of women!
So now I know! I'm incredibly grateful for the newfound friendship of these women, and I look forward to ... no, rely on each of our gatherings to keep me from taking myself too seriously. My only regret is that I didn't do it sooner.
I'd love to hear from other moms about your playgroup or non-playgroup experiences. Feel free to write back with your comments!