Five years ago I shuffled tentatively into Durango’s Family Center to attend the playgroup for parents with children under 6 months old. We 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, secretly wondering if my own boy, mired on his back like a beached whale, would ever achieve such mastery over gravity.
Every Thursday morning we met, toting our sling-dwellers and their steamer trunks of necessities into the Family Center. I’d 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, I’d forget about the rash that, like so many causes of 5-alarm worry, 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 us parents excitedly labeled “friendship!”
By the time the playgroup gang turned three, a whole crop of younger siblings were crawling around stuffing their cheeks with wood chips at the Triangle park. The older siblings were suddenly 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.
How lucky we’ve been to have this tribe of families to grow up with. I don’t know who’s 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. There’s safety in numbers and a pack of moms and kids is always a soothing balm for the diaper rash of motherhood, the kind that flares up under the historically uncommon pairing of a mother and her children alone together.
But what’s itching at me right now is how fast our babies are sailing right into their kindergarten chairs. I distinctly remember admiring Mariah’s head control as her 4-month old noggin teetered perfectly a top her baby neck. Well, Mariah just lost a tooth; Elliot can read; Ella does ballet; Sebastian rides the BMX track; and Mathew, who was late to talk, is now a walking encyclopedia of semi-accurate information.
Today our playgroup includes a brand-spanking June newborn, many of the original 5 year olds, and every age between. Thank you to the Durango Family Center and to all the playgroup kids I’ve 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 Thursdays – see you at the park!