On Sunday, Steve and I attended the 20th anniversary celebration of my playgroup. I say my playgroup, because the group was created and sustained for the mommies. At some point, we started calling ourselves ‘Mom’s Group’ – once we realized that we were there for ourselves. Sure the kids played together and had a good time, but that was secondary to our main purpose.
11 moms, 1 dad, 12 babies and 7 boys and 5 girls ranging in age from 1 – 6 months. By the time the last baby of the group was born, we were 10 mommies and 30 kids strong. Once a year, the dads would join us for a birthday celebration.
We met every Friday afternoon, rain, snow, shine or chicken pox for 10 years. We kept each other sane, exchanged recipes, ideas, stories, frustrations, tears and laughter. We held each others crying babies, fed each others kids, wiped dirty noses, handed out bandaids and broke up toy battles. We set up swimming pools, served up bagels, crackers, cheese and juice and bottomless pots of coffee. We took trips to the zoo, the park, each others homes, the pumpkin patch, camping and picnicking. We bought each other baby gifts, exchanged hand-me-downs, babysat for each other and cooked meals in times of need.
As the kids grew older and school took them away, we settled for a different pace and met for breakfast once a month. A new set of commitments (that none of us can name, exactly) has limited our breakfast meetings to every few months, but we vow to make a new commitment to a monthly gathering.
This year 2 more kids leave for college, bringing the number of college students to 18. We count the years until the first of us becomes an empty nester – a short one and a half; at about the same time, the oldest in the group will graduate from college. By the time the youngest leaves for college in 8 years, the oldest kids will be approaching 30 – the age that most of us were when they were born and we first met. They will be ready to take on the world as we were, with the same excitement about the future.
Thankfully, we aren’t those same women. I like to think that we are stronger, wiser, more content, more grateful, and of course older. Grey hairs, lined faces, an ache or pain – all hard earned. But all still married and all very much alive and healthy. And yet we still look ahead to the next 20 years with the same hope and excitement that we had when we met. Looking towards college graduations and weddings, retirement and grandchildren. So maybe we haven’t changed so much after all, and that’s not so surprising. Because even though the calendar says it’s been 20 years, our hearts tell us that the time that passed was merely the blink of an eye.