Playgroups can sometimes get a bad hype, from clashing parenting styles to uncomfortable clique environments that remind you of high school. But when you find a good one, they can be a wonderful support group and an inexpensive way to keep your sanity. Here’s my top ten reasons why playgroup moms rock.
- You can talk shit and others don’t think badly of you. Because they’re all potty-training too. And when your home inspector shows up an hour early and your two year old has explosive diarrhea and you’re about to cry because he needs to take pictures of your bathroom and everything is going hopelessly wrong and your house now smells like a cesspool, they’ll commiserate. And probably make you feel better with a horror story of their own.
- No one will give you that panicky, trapped look when you talk ad nauseum about your children. I’m a stay-at-home mom, so sometimes I forget how to relate to other adults. Unless they have furbabies. Then we can compare what all strange things our respective children—whether four-legged or two—have eaten or peed on.
- You can change your plans last minute and they forgive you. No one wants the flaky reputation, but playgroup moms understand if you can’t make it to the park because pants are really leg-eating monsters, or shoes have been declared medieval torture devices.
- They understand that sometimes to be a better mom and better wife, you just need to vent. Husband comes home and innocently asks what you’ve done all day because the house is destroyed again since your child dumps out toy bins as fast as you clean up. Or maybe you chose a more noble literary pursuit like reading (or writing!) awesome mom essays instead of picking smushed-in oatmeal out of the rug. Instead of smothering your husband in his sleep, you rant about the injustice at the next playdate. Bonus thing is, your playgroup mom friends won’t give him slant-eyes at the next weekend playdate like a sister-from-another-mister might.
- They’re close enough to confide in, but not too close that you’ll take offense at any well-meant parenting suggestions. You know they’re learning too. I was frustrated with my four-year-old for throwing my own words back at me. I’d introduce her to other children and she’d turn her back to them. “I’m just shy,” she’d respond when I’d admonish her later, parroting my earlier embarrassed excuse. “No, you’re rude,” I’d say back in scary-mommy voice. A mom in my playgroup told me, “I was shy too at that age. Just ignore her. Don’t put her in the spotlight.” Bam. My daughter didn’t like it, so now she says hi. And I didn’t feel like I was being judged by my parenting skills (or lack thereof).
- You do and say the same things over and over again. Don’t eat that. Don’t stick toys in there. Stop whining. Stop climbing furniture. Please for the love of mac n’ cheese, eat something. So it’s nice to be able to sit back on a bench and let them run around with other kids, while you talk about important things like Doc McStuffins’ new sibling, or Dora’s latest adventure, or if you’re really lucky, books you’ve recently read. Anything as long as you don’t have to repeat yourself.
- No one will hold it against you when you have to interrupt yourself to tell your child to stop eating mulch. And you don’t think it as rude if another mom has to break away mid-conversation to rescue their child from the top of the monkey bars. They’ll return and hopefully one of you will remember what you were talking about earlier.
- Being a stay-at-home mom can feel isolating. Playgroup moms get that. Your children are immediate ice-breakers and create a connection so conversation is sometimes easier than with friends you’ve had since elementary school. And they’ll let you know that you’re not alone in this crazy, beautiful, difficult endeavor called parenting.
- They understand that there are different ways of measuring success. You may not be legitimized with a paycheck since that’s the way most of the world sees accomplishments, but they understand that you are raising the next generation, the next movers and shakers, and shaping minds and teaching kindness and responsibility is an incredibly important job. Why is a professional maid, chauffeur, personal shopper, or event planner more valid than a stay-at-home mom who does it all?
Playgroup moms also understand if a Top Ten list only has nine points. They get that naptime is over and the munchkins are clamoring for Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and goldfish, and that the oatmeal has now hardened into cement. They understand and will raise a glass of wine with you in solidarity and yoga pants.
Candice Marley Conner lives in Alabama and has two amazing munchkins. Once she realized how much time and money she was spending at Target, she joined and now organizes a playgroup. Her writing can be found in Babybug Magazine, Mothers Always Write, Mamalode, and Scarlet Leaf Review. She is represented by Lotus Lane Literary. You can find Candice online on Twitter or Facebook.
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