Guest post by JOANNA STEVEN of The Nourished Village
“Our kids are playing so well together! Would you like to get together again?”
I have said this very sentence more times than I can remember since my first boy was about 2 years old. But after I and the other mom strap the kids in the car, nothing else happens. We just become that mom we met one time at the park. Names are forgotten, faces become a blur.
Little by little, I started to lose hope. When even the moms who ask for my email never get back to me, why keep trying? For a while, I stopped asking for play dates, until one time at the Farmer’s Market. I had met a mom whose little boy’s name was Django, like our favorite gypsy jazz guitarist. He was a little younger than mine, but they were having fun. I could sense that she wanted us to meet again, but I did not make the first step. Neither did she. I never saw her again. I still feel bad about it. Why did I stop trying? Because things didn’t work out before? I was never one to give up so quickly.
Now, I still ask moms less and less if they want to get together for the kids to play, but every Spring, with the nice weather and city parks that are slowly exchanging the foot deep rain puddles for kids excited to be outside, I get out of my funk. I dream of the ways things could be if we all lived in tribe of women with children of different ages.
I remember why I really ask moms for playdates. It’s about more than two children playing together.
Mom, this is what I am really asking for when I invite you over for playdates.
I am asking for a grown up to talk to, because as much as I love blowing raspberries on my toddler’s foot and hearing him laugh, I love hearing you talk about the latest book you read, or what your plans are this summer. Loving the company of other adults does not mean we love our children less. It means that we are made to thrive within a community.
I am asking for a family of friends, not just for me, but also for my children. I want them to see what a normal relationship with another person is, outside of the romantic relationship between his parents. Growing up, my parents did not have many friends and worked a lot, and as an adult, it took me a long time to become friends with men. Why should I, I thought, since I already had a husband? I want to get to know you. I want to get to know your children. I want to get to know your husband. I want to get to know your parents. I want you to meet my family. Because you’re not just just the caretaker of a little child, you are a whole person with a family who made you who you are.
I am asking for your whole tribe to play with mine. I want my children to interact with children of different ages and gender, not just a 3 year old because he’s 3. Not just a boy because he’s a boy. Our children are learning about how to live in a diverse society through their friendships and their parents’ friendships. I want our children to learn to be gentle with babies, and I want their brains to be shaped by their interactions with children of all shapes and sizes.
I am asking for a security blanket. I want to be there for you when you need to see the doctor. Or even if you need to go on vacation with your partner, and remember what it felt like to be just the two of you. I want you to be there for me when the baby hasn’t slept all night, and I haven’t either, and my older child is bouncing off the walls. I want us to be there for each other, so we don’t have panic attacks wondering who will care for our children when we can’t.
I am asking for the healing that happens when two tired mothers drink a warm cup of tea together, and watch their children laugh and play, and they remember that yes, motherhood can be easy. It should be easy. We only need to get together more often. I want our children to see that, too, so that when they are parents themselves and find life difficult, they remember our example. They don’t need more money to make parenting easier. They need friends for life.
I am asking for all this, and more, when I ask for playdates. I am asking you and I to look deep into our ancient heritage, when we lived in communities, enjoyed both baby talk and adult conversations, and did not isolate ourselves in boxes where we each cooked the same meal separately and ate alone.
Together, we are stronger. We are happier. We may feel like there is no time, that we are already overwhelmed enough. There’s grocery shopping to be done, houses to clean, dinners to be cooked. But mom, hear me out. Getting together does not add to the overwhelm. It alleviates it. It bring joy to our hearts, and delights our children who get to play with friends while feeling secure, knowing that we are nearby.
Our kids play so well together. Would you like to get together again?
Joanna Steven is an Amazon best-selling author, and the founder of The Nourished Village, a nurturing community for moms and their families. Her work as been published in Eco Hearth, Elephant Journal, Get Fresh! Yum.Gluten Free Magazine, Girlie Girl Army, and more.
She regularly shares kid-friendly vegetarian recipes on her blog, and loves to interact with other moms on her Facebook page and Twitter.
Are you a mom who says NO to spanking, YES to unconditional love, and YES to delicious, nourishing foods?
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