We’re in the pre-play date phase of play dates. They’re basically mom dates.
And, it’s fabulous.
My little guy is 12 months old. He gets excited about yogurt melts, Pharrell’s “Happy,” and our dogs running up the stairs alongside us. He doesn’t beg to hang out with his friends. He doesn’t complain about being bored. He doesn’t care which children are gumming Sophie next to him or pushing trucks around him. He’s just along for the ride.
I’d say we’re in the honeymoon stage of play dates. Everything is still fresh and fun. There’s much joy, little expectation.
Lucky for me, many of my friends also have babies during this life stage. Our kids are a license to hang out in the middle of the day (guilt free) and enjoy lattes in lieu of lunch. Our current play date landscape = my friends + caffeine. Sure, sometimes there’s a park and puffs, story time and sippy cups, but for the most part, it’s a simple equation.
It’s a Monday, and my husband is out of town for eight days on a mission trip to Bolivia. I’m proud of him for using his gifts to serve others, but I’m also overwhelmed by the thought of 24 meals without dad, eight baths without help, and countless glances at the clock (while feeling guilty for doing so). I decide to have two friends and their babies over for brunch. Mimosas on a Monday morning? Why not! We’re not concerned with kids’ crafts or healthy toddler snacks or settling toy squabbles. We’re laser-focused on what matters most at a brunch: food. Mimosas, coffee, quiche, banana and dark chocolate coffee cake. And just like that, these eight days seem more manageable.
These mom dates mean more than a quick caffeine fix.
They are my antidepressant, my intermission.
They pave the way for conversation, which plants sanity and always reminds me I’m not alone. They’re the punctuation to my stay-at-home-mom day: a comma reminding me to take a breath, an exclamation mark prompting me to embrace the messy and laugh at (and with) my little human.
There’s a small group of us who trade stories and encouragement through a constant stream of text messages. We meet mid-week for impromptu walks and leave our kids with our husbands once a month so we can gather for dinner club. They are my mom date crew. These women are honest about the struggles of motherhood (sleep deprivation is a form of torture, ya know) and the joys of the journey (God is one amazing creator to give us these littles). They inspire me to keep on keepin’ on. They keep saying “I know” and “me too” and “God is good,” and their comments sure make a difference.
They are who I text when mid-diaper change my son tugs on the front of his diaper, pulling it over his head while mini poop pellets fall onto his face. Yes, his face. They’re the ones I call on with weaning questions, sleep frustrations, and traveling-with-kids concerns. Some of us breastfeed, some formula feed. Two of us work full time, two don’t. Some of us live by schedules while others are more spontaneous. But, each of us is committed to sharing and encouraging.
They say it takes a village to raise a child, but I’m confident us moms need a village, too—with plenty of hugs, judge-free advice, a glass of wine now and then, and lots of mom dates.
I realize this phase of play dates won’t last forever. Soon, my son will make his own friends in the classroom or on the T-ball field, whose parents may or may not become my friends, too. He will be begging for a four-dollar muffin at the coffee shop or demanding “just one more” trip down the slide. No honeymoon lasts forever. But, I’m hoping we have brainwashed our kids enough that their “baby besties” become childhood pals and high school friends, and so on. Regardless, our mom dates will continue, and in the meantime, I’ll sip this iced vanilla latte, grateful for community.
I remember the first time I made the choice to be a writer. I was surrounded by white, cinderblock walls in Coach Cross’ newspaper class at Keller High School in a Texas suburb. Fast forward almost 15 years to today: I’m a 29-year-old stay-at-home mom and freelance writer in Oklahoma with lots of love for baked goods, lattes, and fellow mommas who are finding and experiencing grace.
We want to hear your uplifting, inspiring, funny, or touching story about your experience as a mother. Please visit our Storytellers page for more information on how to be published on the Good Mother Project blog.