“Okay, ladies, interview before or after dinner?” I ask as we are drinking wine and having appetizers at Anne’s more than comfortable home. To listen to our StoryCorps interview and laugh along with us, click read more and then click here: The Playgroup Moms: Friends for Life
There are groans and even a, “Did we really agree to this?” from Janet.
I laugh. “Yes, you all agreed!”
We head back to our seats, and I explain how the interview will go. I know that it may or may not go how I’m thinking, and honestly, it doesn’t matter. We are all in the same room (miss you, Penny!) enjoying the evening and being together.
We are celebrating 27 years of motherhood, friendship, and one another!
Looking around the room at Janet, Sally, Anne, and Michelle, I see and feel laughter, love and staying power.
What began with the original six: Janet, Sally, Anne, Michelle, Joanne and I has grown into a community of women and friends. Joanne moved away years ago and over the years other moms came and went. It is the women that I see in the room tonight (and Penny) that I count among my closest friends. It is a trust that has been earned for all of us. And we know it and feel it.
Twenty-seven years of sharing motherhood, our stories, fears, accomplishments, and experiences. We met in a Babes in Arms class when our babies, now 26 and 27 were three and four months old. We met on Tuesday afternoons at 1pm at The Ladue Early Childhood Center in St. Louis. What we didn’t know then was the lifelong friends and support system we were creating.
As our interview begins, I think back to those early days of having a baby. None of us were sleeping and we all wondered what we had gotten ourselves into. We all showed up every Tuesday ready to learn, share and sing songs with our babies.
Michelle had a four-year-old which made her our resident go-to-mom for advice. We asked her about everything! (I still do.) And over the years, we began to ask advice from one another about everything you can imagine.
In December of that first year, we decided we needed a Mom’s Night Out and began meeting once a month without kids. We still met with our kids in parks, pools, and backyards. We also lived for our Thursday nights out. We have talked over the years about what this one-time-a-month reprieve from motherhood meant to us. Not only did we laugh together, but we also talked without interruption.
We also included families and dads in a twice a year get-together over the years.
And we ventured to the Zoo and Grant’s Farm as a group.
I originally wrote about us in 2009, saying:
“Those first few classes we talked about sleep deprivation quite a bit. None of could believe how tired we were. Although feeding and bottles and doctor’s visits were part of the discussion, we almost always headed back to sleep. We also sang songs at the end of each class.
I clearly remember feeling like a mom for the first time when Joe and I made it to class one October day. I still wasn’t sleeping, and I still hadn’t lost any baby weight and I was deep into post-partum depression. But that day, I remember feeling like a mom. Some weeks, the only time I got OUT of my house, was to Baby class. Sometimes, the entire day was spent with that goal in mind.
We continued to meet as playgroup with kids until our children were 4 years old and went to pre-school every day. By then many of us had another child or two and we just added these children into the group. Everyone managed to find someone to play with each week which allowed the moms to keep meeting and talking.”
Over the years, we continued to meet as a group on Thursday nights as well as whenever anyone wanted to hang out. I’ve been walking and hiking with Janet in Santa Fe, Anne and Janet and their boys went to Maine to visit Anne’s parents. Sally and Janet are sisters-in-laws and celebrate holidays together. I love to hang out with Michelle who makes me laugh all the time. I’ve been to Cardinal games with her. She has helped me with my business. Anne taught me how to produce a newsletter very recently. Joanne and I went to a concert together. Penny and Janet grew up together. Michelle and Anne sat with me outside a courtroom. We have been to weddings, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs (remember when the fire alarm went off?!), momentous birthdays and yes, survived losses with one another. We even took the train to Washington years ago and stayed in a Bed and Breakfast. We also spent a weekend at Janet’s family lake house in the Lake of the Ozarks and her husband was our pool boy-he helped with all things water-related. Recently, Penny’s husband John acted as our Uber driving us to Forest Park for the Symphony concert. Yes, husbands became part of the mix, too. For me, knowing the kids of playgroup and my friends’ husbands is an added bonus. It’s quite fun to see the Playgroup Kids in their 20’s.
We all know…whatever you are thinking, whatever you need, all any of us needs to do is reach out and someone from Playgroup responds.
We are lucky. Fortunate. Blessed.
It takes the energy and commitment of every member of the group for these relationships to flourish. And it’s easy. Because of the uniqueness of every mom. We respect one another’s differences and enjoy our similarities. Also, and this is perhaps the most important aspect: We LIKE each other and ENJOY one another’s company. We love the laughter, and the easy knowingness we have with one another. (Also, I can hear them all hooting with laughter as they read this!)
Just like the evening of our StoryCorps interview, I knew if I built it, they would come. They might give me grief, in fact, we all give one another grief, because we know it’s from our hearts, but I knew that the Playgroup Moms would come through for me. They always have and they always will.
To be honest, I would not have survived early childhood without the women of my playgroup-the Playgroup Moms. I knew this in the early days as an exhausted new mom and I knew it in 2009.
I know it now, too, in 2023, deep within my heart. That without the Playgroup Moms, my entire mothering experience would have been completely different. My life would have been as well.
Love you all. Now and forever. Oh, and I have a good movie we all need to watch.