#TBT: The Value of Mom Friends

29 Jan

In honor of #tbt (that’s Throw-Back Thursday) we are bringing back some of our (and your!) favorite pieces, many of them updated with new pics! Enjoy!

I spent the first 43 years of my life without children of my own. I was a master at judging parents – and not very kindly, I’m afraid. I couldn’t comprehend why they couldn’t make their three year olds sit quietly in a restaurant or why they didn’t leave their kids home when eating, visiting, traveling or shopping. I absolutely could not understand why their children had to interrupt my very important phone conversations with their moms or why my pals weren’t jumping at the chance to meet (single) me for breakfast, lunch, dinner or the theatre, or come away with me to Martha’s Vineyard.

I liked my friends’ kids – a whole lot, in fact. I bought great gifts for them (for some reason they were never as excited about the clothing I bought them as their mom’s were) and made homemade chicken tenders and gourmet mac and cheese when they visited (who knew they would have much preferred Kraft and McDonald’s nuggets?), I always brought books when I visited (how was I supposed to know they would have rather had guns or dolls?) and tried to engage all of the children in conversation (once, my friend Barbie’s son, Kerry, then about 3, asked her when I was going to leave already – right in front of me!).

My friends could count on me to talk about their husbands, careers, pets, current events, therapy, other friends, clothing trends….everything – except their babies’ milestones, challenges, daily excretions and that sort of thing. I watched as they made friends with the parents of their kids’ classmates and wondered what they could possibly have in common with so many people who lacked our shared history or seemed so unlike them – and us.

If I had only known what I was missing!!

From the time Ben started pre-school and Kindergarten, my husband Gary and I made some of the best friends of our lives. In fact, little by little, we became known as the ‘The Playground Group’ – an incredible collection of families who I have no doubt will remain in one another’s lives until the end. (Now that our kids are in middle school, they have asked us to change the name of the group to something a bit more ‘grown-up’, which translated means ‘less-embarrassing’.)

These are mom’s who are experiencing the same developmental stages, the same perplexing attitudes, the same frustrations and the same joys. Friends who are often overwhelmed underappreciated and confused as me. And at the same exact time! On any given day, any of our children and their complex or embarrassing behaviors are discussed, dissected and ultimately put in perspective – all without fear of judgment and with a great deal of compassion and kindness. After all, no matter what strange thing you see a friend’s kid go through one day, it’s almost a sure bet yours will repeat it a day later.

Our children know, as well, that there is a group of kids at school who may not be their best friends, but will always have their backs. More importantly, at any school function or event, these kids can look around and know for certain that there will always be a parent there – a member of ‘The Playground Group’ that will make sure they are okay, have a ride or race home to bring them a lunch. The security of being part of a family group like that cannot possibly be underestimated or unappreciated by any of them – or us.

I love my old friends (almost all who had their children a decade or more before we had Ben) from before my son – dearly. They are a vital, loving and important part of my life. I cherish our history, our times together and our depth. But for now, we find ourselves in a different stage of our lives. While they are off to London for a long weekend, we decline to make sure we are at Ben’s first swim meet. We might not be able to join them for dinner on Saturday night because we went out on Friday and we don’t like to leave our son with our sitter two nights in a row. We might be having a lovely time at their home for dinner, but often we have to dash off to pick up the kids from a party.

So now, while we wait for the ‘please come get me’ phone call on Saturday nights, we hang out with other parents waiting to do the same. We still travel – but mostly with other families and our destinations are chosen around what our kids would enjoy. We never know how many kids we’re feeding on any given day or how many friends will be spending the night. We could all use a good night’s sleep and a day without struggling to get our kids to do something they’d rather not be bothered with (like homework or piano or taking out the garbage). We understand one other and are grateful for the support and friendships that have sprung up.

I painfully acknowledge that the tables turned on me along the way. Just as I was a judgmental non-mom, I watched others cringe as we boarded an airplane when Ben was a toddler. I’ve gotten my fair share of sneers when others have overheard a disrespectful comment flung my way by my son. I’m sure many a wait-staff wondered why I was tolerating a Nintendo DS at the dinner table when we ‘should’ have been having a lovely family dinner conversation.

So many others wouldn’t understand. But my mom friends did – and do… Mom friends – wouldn’t have missed this for the world.

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6 Responses to “#TBT: The Value of Mom Friends”

  1. Kim Judd October 16, 2012 at 6:43 pm #

    Wow Terri! This is truly written so well and I am proud of you for writing it! You are truly a gifted writer and can inspire people from cheerleaders, coaches, friends and now moms! Totally enjoy these times they go by so fast and you wake up and the kids are now 21 and 24! Love ya!

  2. Julie Bramson Zalla October 16, 2012 at 7:11 pm #

    Terri, I really enjoyed this post! I am often asked by people to explain the “playground group” I talk about so often. I laugh when I think back about how this all began. We would stand outside of the school together waiting anxiously for our “babies” to come out the door with their big smiles and hugs. Of course, we always looked forward to seeing our kids, but each day I looked forward to seeing each of you as well. After leaving a hard day at work, I knew I could come to all of you to complain, hear about your day and most of all…laugh! The playground not only gave our kids a chance to release their extra energy each day, but also gave us a chance to release, let go and feel a little freer.

    No words can describe how lucky I feel for this incredible group of women and families. As I once said to you, friends are our family by choice. You have all become part of my family.

  3. Jeri Gallant Keer October 19, 2012 at 9:37 am #

    Terri I feel so fortunate to be one of your mom friends. Love this blog; love you 🙂

  4. Mindy - one of the vintage Moms October 29, 2012 at 1:52 pm #

    It’s nice that you have the perspective and luxury of being in two worlds, the young Mom-friends & vintage Mom-friends

  5. Tanya Carper November 5, 2012 at 10:06 pm #

    Ter, that was great! Funny and insightful, I really enjoyed and definately could relate, lol! Miss you

  6. Tammy Machowicz Olsztyn November 8, 2012 at 8:27 am #

    Congrats on your blog, Terri. You were always one of my favorite writers. Although I have missed out on many of the details over the years, this blog speaks volumes of your integrity and character that I know, love, and remember. It is no surprise that you have found a way to keep speaking your truth as a way to influence and inspire us! Thanks, friend.

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