We had a playdate Valentines party. I invited a group of Heather and Stella’s little friends over to exchange valentines, fill up on sugar and decorate festive bags with glitter and hearts.
It was fun to see all the little girls playing together and nibbling their cookies around our child-sized table. To watch the frenzy of valentines being exchanged from hand to hand, as the children whirled about trying to figure out which valentine went to which friend under the direction of multiple moms.
We lined them all up and snapped their picture while they looked in multiple directions with half smiles and lollipops propped in cheek corners. It was a sweet scene to see them all flaunting their “heartsy” attire and carrying their goodie bags home, a lovely little memory to tuck into their minds and to treasure in our motherly hearts.
Yet at the end of the day, as cute as all that was, that is not why I had my daughters’ friends over.
I had them over so I could see their moms.
Because let’s be honest, all the playgroups, and park outings and birthday parties are not just about the kids seeing their little friends but about the parents seeing their adult friends. Having an excuse to come together with other adults and to have adult interaction. even only for a hour or two is such a treat anymore!
When piles of laundry, mounds of cheerios and whining voices surround a parent all day, the opportunity to see that same look in another mother’s eyes and to hear them going through the same phase of life can be such a relief. Even though we are not alone in our motherhood role, we don’t always remember that when we ARE alone in the privacy of our homes with only our children for company.
Yet we mothers tend to feel guilty if we take too much time for themselves, and actually get away for a while to regroup after a trying day. So why not have playmates that involve and revolve around our children but are not really about them?
Children don’t really need support like we do, they don’t need conversation, they are perfectly happy playing with whoever or whatever, they will be content if they have a yard to run around in or another child to follow. They are innocent and carefree without the responsibilities of the world on their shoulders.
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But mothers, well mothers are higher maintenance, we have more specific needs, we need that companionship, that affirmation and encouragement, that specific support of other-people-just-like-me who are going through the same things as me. It is written into our human nature to be drawn to others just like us and to have a social interaction fulfilled that is just not available in little humans who speak in fragmented incoherent sentences.
We mothers spend our days feeling extremely busy but seemingly getting nothing accomplished. We spend most of our time serving, loving and completely sacrificing ourselves for our families. The often thankless job as mothers can drain us if we don’t receive some recognition now and then and what better way to find it than in our fellow moms?
The “yes I see you, yes I know what that’s like, yes I’ve been there, yes I understand.”
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So while our kids blissfully play away, we moms can seek the adult companionship that we so desperately need whether we want to admit it or not. And sometimes yes, we even need some mommy dates apart from the kids so that we can all have a breathing space and come back to our families renewed to tackle the next day challenges. But since time away is not always realistic why not work with what we have and bring our kids along?
Even on those days when it often seems like more effort to get out of the house and visit with other families than it’s worth and we wonder why we even bother. Even when the playing doesn’t go as smoothly as we want it to, when kids are scrabbling over a favorite toy or throwing a fit on the floor or making so much noise the moms can barely carry on a conversation, we must remember that we are all in this together and we need each other.
So embrace the play date and find a little more sanity when you share the motherhood struggles with others, kids and all.