Friday, September 17, 2010

Social Time

How we need it!

Back in my baby/toddler/LaLecheLeague days, we emphasized this so much to the new moms we worked with. The need to connect with other moms, to find our Tribe, to boost our serotonin and oxytocin levels by "tending and befriending" and nurturing our female friendships - it was essential.

Back then, it was a no-brainer. Most women would go crazy cooped up in the house with no one but a baby or toddler to talk to all day, day after day, especially if they had recently left a full-time career and the social life and sense of accomplishment that had come with it. But being new to the mommy thing, many lacked the resources and connections to find their new MamaTribe.

So we had our monthly meetings, but we also put together play groups, enrichment meetings, tie-dye days, family picnics - anything we could think of - to bring these new moms together. And in helping them, we helped ourselves. We needed it as much as they did, and continued to get together even as our group moms came and left. We kept each other sane through the fevers and rashes, tantrums and tears, fears and doubts - through all the trials and tribulations of early motherhood.

But what about now? Our babies have grown. Most of them are in school all day, and many of us are working at least part-time. But for those of us who are still at home, doing the laundry and avoiding the temptation to check out Daytime TV, the need for adult company hasn't gone away. It may not be as obvious, but these gatherings and friendships are just as important now as they were then.

The conversation has changed, of course. When our children reach a certain age, we begin to regain our identities. We remember that we are more than just Mommy - those other parts of us that had to be pushed aside when little people depended on us for everything begin to creep forward again. We remember that we were once intelligent people with interests and hobbies and areas of expertise - and a sense of humor - and we want to begin sharing those parts of ourselves with others.

We still talk about our kids, certainly, but they are the side dish rather than the main course. Exercise and fitness, what we're eating, what we're reading, how we're nurturing ourselves, whether we need to be working or not and what kind of work we'd like to do - those seem to be the hot topics these days.

It's refreshing.

I was fortunate enough to have received a full dose today - first, a wonderful gathering of 8 fantastic women this morning, complete with coffee and tasty brunch, followed by some one-on-one time with a dear LaLecheLeague friend I've known for over a decade. I sandwiched in some home-time / school-time with the boys and later received a visit from another wonderful LaLecheLeague friend (and a pop in from my equally wonderful neighbor) for dinner. The kids set up a lemonade stand across the street and we talked into the evening and made plans for more.

It's nice to have these opportunities to step out of the trenches and survey the landscape. Nicer still to see that we've still got the things that made us special and interesting and unique before we became Mommy, and that there are people out there who want to know about them and want to share those parts of themselves too.

A good day all around.

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