Five years ago, I shuffled tentatively into Durangos Family Center to attend the playgroup for parents with children younger than 6 months old.
The new mamas sat in a circle, nursing our downy-head babies, swabbing at spit-up and discussing infant sleep patterns as if they were etched in eternity. I regarded the babies who sat on their diapered haunches upright! as exotic prodigies. I secretly wondered if my own boy, mired on his back like a beached whale, ever would achieve such mastery over gravity.
Every Thursday morning we met, toting our sling-dwellers and their steamer trunks of necessities into the Family Center. Id park Col on the rug, my mind fogged with sleeplessness and worry that the stippled rash suddenly blooming on his bottom was the hallmark of some horrible childhood disease. Then some mama would say something so comforting and funny and true, Id forget about the rash. Like so many causes of five-alarm worry, it disappeared on its own.
Our babies quickly became toddlers. After a year of drooling side-by-side, they began locomoting, snatching each others toys and hoarding engines at the Family Center train table. They learned each others names and had fleeting moments of shared play that we parents excitedly labeled friendship.
By the time the playgroup gang turned 3, a whole posse of younger siblings were crawling around stuffing their cheeks with wood chips at the triangle park. The older siblings suddenly were impossibly mature with their long, scabby legs and underpants peeking out over their britches. Where did the time go? Those grannies at the bank, compelled to point out how fast it all goes, were absolutely right.
Weve been lucky to grow up with this tribe of families. I dont know who benefitted more me or the kids. Col counts these kids who once slobbered on his oxygen cord as his best buddies, and I feel the same about their mothers. Theres safety in numbers. A pack of moms and kids always is a soothing balm for the diaper rash of motherhood, the kind that flares up under the historically uncommon triad of a mother and her children alone together.
But whats itching at me right now is how fast our babies are sailing right into their kindergarten chairs. I distinctly remember admiring Mariahs head control as her 4-month-old noggin teetered perfectly on top of her baby neck. Well, Mariah just lost a tooth; Elliot can read; Sebastian rides the BMX track; and Mathew, who was late to talk, now is a walking encyclopedia of semi-accurate information.
Today our playgroup includes a June newborn, many of the original 5-year-olds and every age between. Thank you to the Durango Family Center and all the playgroup kids Ive known since they were toothless. Thanks to the coffee-swilling mamas and Ryan (our only stay-at-home dad who can hang in the estrogen-rich environment). Lets all ditch kindergarten on Thursdays. See you at the park.
Reach Rachel Turiel at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out her blog about raising children, chickens and backyard food at 6,512 feet: 6512andgrowing.wordpress.com.