When my husband and I (along with our new baby girl Dylan) lived in the West Village of Manhattan, we had these nice neighbors named Barbara and Arthur. Barbara and Arthur had two kids (in their early and mid 20s).
One day I noticed a large group of women convening at their home. I asked Barbara, "What's the occasion?"
"The 25th anniversary of my daughter's first playgroup!" she replied.
"Gosh, that is so nice! How wonderful that you all kept in touch," I said.
But I also thought, "25 years?! That's crazy!!"
I had my own moms' playgroup at that time. Our babies were a few months old and we would convene once a week to let them roll around while we obsessed over whatever baby issues were overwhelming us... eating, sleeping, nursing, not nursing, taking a pacifier, not taking a pacifier, and everything else that seemed to go with these little strange beings.
Having your first baby is a blip of time that seems like it will go on for a million years but it's really three seconds. You live in some weird time capsule, where you see other people go on with their normal lives but yours is just a replay of the same day... nightly feedings, lack of sleep, changing, more feeding, argument with your spouse because of lack of sleep, repeat.
Your past life is gone and you don't understand how to navigate your new life.
But this ridiculous passion you have for your baby keeps pushing you along, nudging you ever so slowly back to a life you sort of recognize but is still forever changed.
And that's why you need the playgroup. Because the only moms who really understand at that moment are the ones right there. They will calm. They nod knowingly. They laugh along with you. You'd look at one of the moms and think, "Why is she so obsessed with strollers? She should be obsessed with sleep. Let's talk about sleep. Why is my baby not sleeping?!!"
The following week you are obsessed with strollers.
Then the babies grow. They become toddlers who become preschoolers who become elementary school students.
You have a living reminder of the years whisking by.
And one day, you look at your baby and she is turning 10. Ten. And you know it won't stop there. Ten will turn into prom dresses which will turn into high school graduations which will turn into college diplomas.
My daughter Dylan will soon be 10.
I wish I could go back in time for just a moment, to experience the magic of her baby-ness. To hold her in my arms and press my lips to her incredibly soft cheeks. To just for an instant experience that moment when I couldn't even imagine she'd talk to me one day, let alone turn into a beautiful, sensitive, creative, loving, amazing 10-year-old girl.
And yet she did.
I still keep in touch with many of the women in that playgroup from so long ago. We shared something that I will forever hold with me. That first time mom thing. When life became a blur of love and care taking and nightly feedings and fatigue. When a baby sleeping in my arms made me feel like a superhero.