"I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world." -Richard Dawkins

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Desperate Playdaters.

Ah, the proverbial playdate. I remember (back in the day) when my stepbrother was still three years old (I was only about eleven myself) and my stepmother still had subscriptions to Parents and Family Fun magazines and I still spent my weekends at their house. I would read articles about playdates, and playdate ettiquette and remember being very intrigued by the entire concept. I mean, how did all these moms find each other in the first place? I'm pretty sure I'd romanticized several notions of top secret government subsidiaries, much like the Men in Black, who sent out lists to new mothers on flimsy paper, banged out on an antiquated old typewriter like some sort of mafia docket from the 1940's, and on that list were all the other mothers in a 5-mile radius who had children born within a week of yours and you were required by law to have playdates with them.

I myself was not a playdate child. I had friends, but only interacted with them on a one-on-one basis. None of this premeditated communing of multiple mothers that I have now come to know and love. But it was the internet that gave me my circle of friends. In 1994 when I was reading about these mysterious playdates in magazines, where were these mothers finding one another? I don't recall my little brother being a playdate child. Was there really any such thing as playdates at all, or were they just invented by the media to give stir-crazy housewives something to do, something to plan, something to think about other than whether or not the dryer had stopped running and whose turn it was to unload the dishwasher?

I have LiveJournal to thank for my circle of mom friends. LJ makes it fairly easy to locate people with the same mentality as you. And I, with seemingly no effort at all, managed to become part of a (still growing) group of ten mothers with fourteen children and we get together about once a week. Sometimes at the mall, sometimes at our homes, sometimes at the park playground, and sometimes we go out without the children, just the ladies, just as friends, out to dinner as though we're just girls again and not moms at all, our only concerns (if only for a few hours) are which earrings are just dangly enough, and how many glasses of wine are too many to keep conversing with a straight tongue?

We're babywearers and cosleepers, we're APers and breastfeeders, we're homebirthers and anti-plastic-ites and yet among us are formula feeders, crib users, hospital birthers and Elmo-lovers. We're enough alike that it's okay that we're different, and we're open minded enough to understand and respect the difference. We chat about everything, some of us have questionable, exotic pasts, each of us has a story to tell. We've grieved together, we've celebrated together, we've been together through thick and thin and it's only been two years. We gather at my dining room table (the same one I used to gather at with my stepbrother back when it did not belong to me, but to my stepmother) to scrapbook and knit and eat and laugh and remember that we are not alone.

I am baffled by how mothers in the generations before me organized playdates. I am confused as to how such a thing could happen before the days of the internet. But however they did it and whomever they are, I am grateful. Foremothers, we salute you. You invented the playdate, and because of you we are forming bonds we will hold for the rest of our lives.

(Originally written Wednesday 2/20/2008)

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