It will begin as most play dates do: a phone call or text suggesting that we get the kids together for some play time. Then my initial excitement that I get Time With My Friend.
In the few days leading up to the play date, I will be eagerly looking forward to some much-needed Time With My Friend, imagining my girls and their friends playing angelically upstairs and away from my mom friend and me, allowing us the space we need to interact meaningfully.
If my girls misbehave beforehand, I will threaten to cancel the play date. But unbeknownst to them, I would do no such thing; after all, if I cancel the play date, I will also be canceling Time With My Friend!
On the day of, I pack up the kids and head to our friend’s home. The children run off together in that initial eagerness to spend time together, while my friend and I begin our chat.
Usually, things will go pretty smoothly for about 20 minutes. Then the inevitable Mama, I need to pee, can you come with me? pops up. Come with you? Why? And why didn’t you pee before we left the house?
I get it over with and return to my friend, not remembering what she was saying when I left the room. Another 10 minutes goes by without incident, until a crash is heard from upstairs.
We slam down our coffee cups and race up to make sure our kids have their arms and legs intact. But of course they do. One of them has dropped a large toy, and they look at us moms like You ran all the up here because a toy fell on the floor? Yes. Yes, we did. Because it sounded like much more than that. Like the roof caved in.
My friend and I exchange sheepish smiles and return to our now room temperature coffee.
We keep an ear out for other odd noises, possibly indicating pain. I now feel that I can’t totally relax, even though I try to get back in the rhythm of the conversation, but forgetting where I left off. My friend begins a new thread, and we eagerly start chatting again.
WE KEEP AN EAR OUT FOR OTHER ODD NOISES, POSSIBLY INDICATING PAIN. I NOW FEEL THAT I CAN’T TOTALLY RELAX, EVEN THOUGH I TRY TO GET BACK IN THE RHYTHM OF THE CONVERSATION, BUT FORGETTING WHERE I LEFT OFF.
Then the kids have some sort of disagreement. Tears are shed. Things get awkward, as we struggle to console our children, wishing fervently that the kids would all get over whatever it is, so we can have Five Minutes Of Uninterrupted Time.
For the most part, the kids will have their fun, and not want to leave when it’s time to go. Children need and should have time with their friends on a regular basis. They will have enjoyed their time together, but what about us moms? Why do we settle for these compromised get-togethers in lieu of real face-to-face time with each other?
We wanted to have a good time. We started out having a good time. But all. those. interruptions. It makes you want to ask What’s the point of meeting like this? Don’t we also deserve to reconnect in a meaningful way without being so needed all the time?
WE CAN CHILL, RELAX, EAT, LAUGH, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY—TALK—WITHOUT INTERRUPTION.
This is why I am a strong advocate of Girls’/Moms’ Night/Breakfast/Brunch/Lunch/Just Get The Hell Out Of The House Without The Kids. We can chill, relax, eat, laugh, and most importantly—talk—without interruption. Yes, it’s harder to plan, because we need to arrange for childcare or sync up with husbands to make sure they are available to watch the kids. And everyone’s schedule is different, so finding a day or night that works for all involved takes time and effort.
But the payoff is immense. The feeling afterwards of having recharged and laughed away our worries, while catching up with other mom friends, exchanging tips, advice, and embarrassing anecdotes about the kids, have a real healing effect. Even something as simple as going window shopping or taking a walk matter, because, as much as we adore our kids, we need time away to reconnect with the other moms in our village, in order to be better moms in our families.