Like many women of their time, both of my grandmothers were devout bridge players, and their bridge luncheons with their girlfriends were sacrosanct. Growing up, I simply did not get it; what was the allure of this card game? I now understand that the bridge dates had very little to do with the actual game and everything to do with the fact that these women understood the importance of leaving kids, husbands and chores behind and reserving time to laugh, share and play games with their friends. My grandmothers knew what I only am beginning to appreciate now: Moms need their own playdates. Here are the reasons why:
1. The older your kids get, the fewer the opportunities you have for mom interactions. I spent untold hours in the company of friends waiting out ballet practices, soccer games and swim lessons; standing in the quad killing time until our elementary kids were released from school; and herding small children on field trips. I did not realize how much I valued that time in the company of mom-friends until it slowly started to slip away.
These days, the kids are more independent, they bike or drive to their own activities and to school, and mom gatherings have decreased proportionately. At a recent graduation party, I found myself at a table with the Brownie Troop moms from a bygone era. It was then that I realized how very long it had been since we were together as a group and how much I missed their wit and their humor. Note to self: time to schedule the Brownie Reunion (moms only, of course).
2. It is important to have a peer group that survives the parenting years. Life with kids is busy and scheduled to max capacity, and there are times when you seriously think that this job of being on-call for your kids 24/7 is never going to end. But then it does. For the same reason that it is important to nurture your relationship with your spouse or partner, it is important to nurture your relationships with your friends. When you no longer have to pick up toys, drive carpool and proofread school essays, you are going to have a whole lot of empty time to fill.
3. Life happens, and when it does, it is good to have friends who know you well. My grandmother’s bridge group was together for over 50 years. She is fond of reminding me that she has seen and heard it all with this group of friends. Together, they withstood all of the highs and lows that come with life: marriages, divorces, infidelities, sexual awakenings, financial hard times, times of relative prosperity, war, peace, illnesses, recoveries, births, deaths, children and empty nests. In my 20s, such a list seemed impossibly far away from my own reality. Now in my 40s, many things on that list hit very close to home. To have close friends around you to celebrate the good times and to support you through the bad is not a luxury; it is a necessity.
4. It’s fun (duh). Get-togethers do not need to look like bad Moms’ Night Out/Moms Gone Wild episodes. Mostly, it is just great to be in the same room with your friends, eating awesome food, drinking a little wine, laughing too loudly at inappropriate jokes, listening to ’80s dance music, and most of all, chatting a lot about everything that is good, crazy, maddening and awesome about life.
With that, you’ll have to excuse me while I go see about my own next playdate. Bridge, anyone?