Throwback Thursday: The First Five Years

I was feeling a little nostalgic today so I thought I’d participate in a little Throwback Thursday. What’s Throwback Thursday?

Throwback Thursday is the name of a weekly post theme that social media users participate in as part of a very general “throwback” activity for posting content and usually post photos on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram that are from the past.

But I didn’t want to do that. It sounded like too much work to find an old photo to post. (And an old photo of what?) Plus, how do you even get an old photo on Instagram?

So I decided to do a different take on Throwback Thursday and re-post a piece that I wrote for skirt.com last year. (Thank you for indulging my laziness, all this working out has made me tired!)

The First Five Years

“I wake up almost every night covered in sweat,” I said to a table full of women on Friday night.

“Oh God, is that what we’re talking about?”  a latecomer said as she walked up to our table.

“Oh yes, it’s no longer poopy diapers,” I responded. “The topic has changed.”

Friday night I had a reunion dinner with six women I met 15 years ago in a playgroup when Chandler was a baby. And yes, the topic had changed.

I was the first of my circle of friends to get married let alone pregnant and to say I had no idea what I was doing is an understatement. Luckily I found a gym for pregnant and postpartum women and when I popped in to purchase a breast pump when he was about a week old, I was invited to join a playgroup one of the gym members was forming.

I was desperate for mommy friends, so with a nine day old newborn in tow, I went to the very first “playgroup” meeting on a chilly Thursday afternoon. There were four new moms in attendance. There was an eight month old, a four month old, a three month old, nine day old Chandler, and three other mothers trying to figure out what the heck we were supposed to be doing. I held Chandler tightly and watched the other babies lie on their backs on the carpet, kicking their feet at their portable baby gyms.

Babies

I couldn’t wait to go back the next week.

The four of us met for two or three more weeks before finding new members. Within a few months we had over a dozen moms and decided to close our group. We were meeting every week at people’s houses and were just getting too big.

We had all been career women who had become stay-at-home moms. Among us was a wedding dress designer, an artist, an actress, a paralegal, a marketing vice president, a graphic artist, a teacher, an interior designer, and a screenwriter. While most of us had imagined seeing “Mom” as a chapter in our lives, few of us had ever imagined seeing it as a job title on our resumes. We didn’t quite know how to wrap our heads around this new identity.

Over pot luck lunches we’d talk about the things our other friends did not want to talk about – nap schedules, projectile vomit, chaffed nipples , the terrible awful thing that childbirth had done to our bodies, where our babies were (or were not) on the developmental chart, percentile placements, our very disrupted sex lives, and yes, poopy diapers. (Lots and lots of talk about poopy diapers.)

As our babies became toddlers and our houses could no longer contain so many of them running around we shifted our Thursday meetings to a neighborhood park. We would lay out picnic blankets and low beach chairs and spend our Thursday afternoons lazing around chatting while we watched our children play, our greedy conversations constantly interrupted by sand in an eye, requests for food, and the call of, “Mom, Mom, Mom,” a demand to be pushed on the swing again and again and again. When the ice cream man came we would joke that what we really needed was a cappuccino man and daydream out loud about that business plan. If it rained we’d shift to an indoor play place and ignore the germs in the ball pit. We wondered why none of the indoor play places had coffee. Or better yet, wine. When the kids got a little older we added a Friday beach day during the summer.

Of course some people clicked better than others and little side groups of two or three formed for extra playdates or outings – but never in an exclusionary way. With the exception of one member who was certifiably crazy (but incredibly entertaining – oh the blogs upon blogs I could write about that cuckoo), we all genuinely liked each other and got along well.

We celebrated the highs in life with birthday parties and baby showers and mom’s nights out. We were each other’s rocks for the lows – breast cancer, a miscarriage, the death of a parent.

Eventually as the kids got older our group started to dwindle. Four members moved away – one upstate, three out of state. Almost everyone eventually went back to work at least part-time. By the time our babies entered kindergarten maintaining our Thursday afternoon ritual had become nearly impossible. We would meet during winter break and in the summer, but it was never quite the same. The sad truth is while all of our kids remember playgroup as a whole, they barely remember each other.

I still keep in close contact with three of the moms and fairly close contact with two others. Of course we are all friends of Facebook (those of us who are on Facebook) and watch each other’s children grow up there.

It was so nice to catch up on Friday night. I only wish more of us had been there. And yes, our topics had changed – poopy diapers and chaffed nipples had been replaced by the demands of high school and hot flashes.

Our jokes about which toddlers would be attending prom together had progressed to “Oh shit, in two more years our kids are going to be attending prom.” (We’re not ready!)

What book on Oprah’s Book Club list we were enjoying changed to who would admit to reading Fifty Shades of Grey.

And yes, okay, because I am maddeningly honest in my blog I will admit it – the gossip of Tom and Nicole’s divorce was updated to snickers about the split between Tom and Katie. (Hey, we’re women – it happens.)

We lingered over dinner for three and a half hours – about the same amount of time we allotted for our Thursday playgroups. It wasn’t enough. I wanted more time with these women – these moms- who were there for me at the beginning of this journey called motherhood.

I love who my children are becoming, and it is a joy to watch them grow. I do not wish for them to be forever toddlers. (Who misses not being able to leave the house without a sippy cup, container of Goldfish, diapers and a change of clothes?) I really am enjoying this stage of our lives.

But I do wish I could still take my picnic blanket and beach chair to linger at the park and chat with my friends next –and every- Thursday.

babies-portrait
That baby in the red shirt balling his eyes out is Chandler. Priceless!

5 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: The First Five Years

  1. Such great memories, Charlene! I will never forget what an important part this group played in our lives. It quite literally kept me sane. Now, when should we expect that blog about our crazy member? Maybe you can post it anonymously to protect the innocent!

  2. So true. Thank god for mommy groups. I don’t think I would have survived my first year with my precious bundle without mine 🙂 but still remembering to cherish as many of the moments as I can…

  3. I remember reading this post before. I love going back down memory lane of the early years of my kids. Those were the most joyous times. How lucky for you to have weekly mommy get-togethers to discuss shared common ground.

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