It is a series of friendships that could not have happened any other way. We met at a prenatal yoga class while we were pregnant with our first children. All due within a month of each other, Catherine decided that we needed to form a playgroup for our soon to be born babies.
I am not sure that any of us understood the blessings that this decision would give us.
It is sweet now to look back on those first months of our group.
Stumbling through the door of whichever home we were gathered at that week, car seat handle over crook of arm, diaper bag with items spilling out, and tired eyes desperately trying to focus after a night of little sleep.
As we entered, our faces searched for validation that we were not the only ones feeling that a catastrophic mistake had been made by allowing such a fragile life to be cared for by someone so lacking in experience.
We quickly stopped calling it playgroup and began calling it mom’s group- clearly a more accurate description. We shared facts that we had learned from our pediatricians, discussed the changes in our relationships with our husbands, and wondered out loud if we would ever be able to use the bathroom alone again.
Our parenting styles differed greatly, and it didn’t matter. Some of us breastfed, some used formula, some slept with our babies, while others were in a crib from their first night home.
Yet, there was a common ground. We all loved our babies immensely and wanted to make the best decisions for our families.
Now it is four years later and I estimate that there have been only two weeks that mom’s group has not met. I marvel at our commitment to attend each week.
Whether our children arrive in pajamas, or us moms with raccoon eyes from mascara (while gratefully applied) not removed, yoga pants on (only pretending to be used for their designed purpose), and hair thrown- yet again- into a haphazard ponytail, we are magnetized to this group meeting.
I suspect that the reason we so rarely miss a week of coming together is because so many times, it has been our lifeline. While each of us tussled with what made being at home with a newborn so trying, we knew that on at least one day each week, we could exhale with the knowledge that we were all struggling.
And though it has been “only” four years, in addition to the challenges of being first time parents, we have seen each other through other significantly trying circumstances: struggles with infertility and loss, illnesses of our own parents, and health issues that our children are facing.
Through it we have offered real and practical support. A friend taking our oldest so that we could have time to bond with our newborn, daily meals brought to a girlfriend spending much of her time at the hospital with her second, born prematurely, support offered for tears after a personal loss.
As I recently hugged my girlfriend who cried with frustration from dealing with her own health situation, I fully realized the importance of our group.
We offer so much more than a weekly meeting of stay at home moms. We have built a trust, understanding, and serendipitous love that allows us to practically and emotionally make it through all of the circumstances that life presents us.
While four years pales in comparison to the longevity that we hold with many equally important and supportive friends, this group was founded on the very premise that together, we would navigate the tumultuous times of newborn-hood.
Now, I am faced with a challenging situation. Coverage is needed and I wonder with my husband what we should do. I know that I need to be more involved, but we don’t have anyone who is available to care for my children during the day, who I am confident will love them.
Within minutes I realize that the answer is obvious.
I know that within hours of sending out my e mail every shift of child care I need covered, will be. I know that their spouses will pick up the slack, in spite of their busy workdays or coaching schedules.
I know that my children will be loved, well cared for and safe.
And so this is a tribute.
Not just to my mom’s group, but to all parents who thoughtlessly extend support when needed. Whether it is meals delivered, or child-care by someone we trust to lovingly care for our children, support is given, and it makes all the difference during trying times.
As for my mom’s group, ours is a bond that will be with us for life.
Whether we move, lose touch, or other life circumstances attempt to disrupt it, it will remain ever -present because we navigated the seemingly impossible terrain of life, combined with new parenthood, together.