This is the story of how I met my mommy group, parent support group, playgroup… whatever you want to call it, I think you know what I’m talking about. But if you don’t and you are a first-time parent, especially one with a child under the age of one year old, then please take time and read today’s post. I’ve been wanting to write something about this for a long, long time, and I really should have done this a lot sooner, and not for my sake but for yours.
While I was pregnant with T, I Googled around in an effort to see if there was anything like a play group or other type of mom group for us once T arrived. I can’t remember the exact terms I used in my search, but I’ll always remember finding the group itself and receiving such a warm welcome from my inquiry. The founder of the group told me I was more than welcome to come to events even before my baby arrived, but I decided I just wasn’t ready or in need of that just yet and told her that I’d write back again once T was here to find out more about their events.
So T came (and three months went by), and I finally was starting to get some sleep – not a lot, mind you, but at least some sleep! And with that much-needed rest I finally worked up the nerve to go to my first meeting with the Coastal Cuties (yes, that’s their name, don’t wear it out!). I’ll never forget that first meeting; it was a simple get-together at a fellow mom’s house where there were about 12-15 moms milling about with their babies and toddlers, and there I was, pretty much glued to a sofa nursing T (because that’s pretty much all we ever did back when he was three months old). I can still remember a few of those moms cycling through the empty spot on the couch next to us and introducing themselves (sadly, many there that day have moved out-of-state, including the gal’s whose house it was). I think T and I stayed about an hour; I can still remember calling a friend of mine from the car immediately after that meeting, telling her that after just that one hour and a few previous false starts with other groups that I thought I’d finally found a “good group” and genuine place for T and I to spend a couple of hours each week.
For the next several months, I made a habit of getting T and I out of the house every Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. for Coastal Cuties. The group met at homes, they met at playgrounds, and they met up at a local community fire station meeting room. Those early days of the group were very simple, but being a new mom I very much appreciated that simple approach; always open-house style, we were never asked why we were late or why we had to leave early (or for those times we just didn’t make it, we were never bugged about why we didn’t show up). But T and I always did our best to show up for whatever Coastal Cuties planned, all despite my work schedule (I was still working outside the home and from home the first year of T’s life). As I dedicated this time weekly, I started to realize how incredibly important of an event it was on our calendar, not just for T to have a play date but also for me to get out of my house and socialize with other moms. Back then most of the kids were still infants and young toddlers, which meant that us moms would actually get a few minutes together uninterrupted to gab about diapers, feedings, sleep (or lack of), sore boobs, and great kid deals. There were working moms, stay-at-home-moms, and any category of mom in between that one could imagine (like myself). No matter what topic came up or what I might have had a question about, I could usually find the go-to person in the group with the information I needed. I quickly realized not only was this a social group but it was also quite the resource; Coastal Cuties was proving to be an absolute wealth of information on oh-so-many levels.
I also witnessed the amazing philanthropic spirit of the group as the months went by, too. There were the little things, like hand-me-down play dates where families swapped their used clothing and goods with fellow moms; leftovers always went to a local shelter in need, so rest assured nothing ever went to waste. This charitable vibe rose to amazing levels at times, too. More recently, one of the five-year-olds in the group came up with the idea to host a lemonade stand to raise funds for a local food bank. Kids, moms, and dads got together, built a lemonade stand, made lemonade, solicited and received baked goods from local retailers and parents inside the group, and sold it all on a busy street corner last Labor Day Weekend. They raised about $500 toward their cause – simply amazing considering it all came together in under a week’s time and all because a five-year-old boy said, “I want to have a lemonade stand to raise money to help feed people that were hungry” (never underestimate the young people, RMT’ers!).
From the time when I joined up, when membership was just around 60 moms and kids, up until now (at more than 230 members), Coastal Cuties has yet to fail us by way of entertainment, friendship, or support. While that first meeting may not have appeared at the outset to be anything special, I came to learn that this group of women and children would provide some of our family’s deepest friendships to date. We’re into our fourth year now with Coastal Cuties, and the group just celebrated its Fifth Anniversary, and it’s all thanks to one mom who wanted to surround herself with other women going through the same thing she was: Motherhood. I might have suffered from lack of sleep back in T’s first year of life, but I certainly was not lacking in friendship, camaraderie, or support. I am forever grateful that I found Coastal Cuties, not just an awesome play group for T and support group for myself, but also the birthplace of what has become a most wonderful circle of friends for our entire family (yes, even the Dads get to get in on some of the fun, too!).
So RMT’ers, especially you newer ones, go get your group – get up, get dressed, get out of the house, and go and find it. Do it for yourself, your kiddos, and your spouse, too. You will know it’s the right group for you when you stumble across it, just like I knew in my gut I’d found the one for us. Thank goodness for mother’s intuition – and in my case, thank goodness for Coastal Cuties, too!