Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Girltalk

Have I told you about Girltalk?

If you have girls you're gonna love this!  I know I do.  

Isabella is my first born and my only daughter.  I worked as a Speech Language Pathologist for a large inner-city school district when she was born and there were 5 of us working close together who all had babies right about the same time. 4 of those 5 babies were girls.   And within a couple of months our very first playgroup was formed.  I'm not sure how much "playing" was done that first time we got together since our infants all spent most of their time sleeping in their carseats.  But the moms sure enjoyed the afternoon!

Within 18 months all 4 of the women with girls were staying at home full time.  These women (and their girls) were ESSENTIAL to my life.  Although we all had early childhood degrees, none of us had actual parenting experience and we needed each other desperately, on the hard days, as well as the good ones.  We shared each others burdens and celebrated each others victories.  Raising young children was easier because we were doing it together.  We spent the first 5 years of our daughters lives playing, sharing and experiencing life together on a regular basis.

And then the changes came.  Although the girls were only months apart 2 were summer birthdays and 2 were fall birthdays, they weren't going to go to school together.  One family moved a little farther out of the city and one family moved to Denver (a little to far for regular playdates!)  It was one of our last evenings together and just the mommas went out for dinner.  After dinner we browsed around a local bookstore, all a little sad that this chapter of our life was ending.  And then a saw it...the answer I had been looking for...
a book entitled The Mother Daughter Project: How Mothers Can Band Together, Beat the Odds and Thrive Through Adolescents by SueEllen Hamkins and Renee Schultz.  

I know Isabella was five (almost 6 at the time) a LONG way from adolescents, but the premise of the book was something I KNEW to be true.  Parenting is a WHOLE LOT easier when done in community!  That is what we had done for the past 5 years, why should we stop now just because the girls were no longer in preschool.  Growing up didn't mean that the didn't still need each other, it didn't mean I didn't still need their mommas.  

The problem still remained that one family was moving out of state and the other was too far away for regular get togethers.  So my friend Deb and I (the only ones still remaining) sat on it for a little while and prayed about it.  But in my heart I knew this was something Isabella and I were going to need.  So I started reaching out to the people around me.  I talked to my neighbor Jenn and her daughter just a year younger than Isabella, I KNEW I would want her on my team.  My dear friend Laura and her 2 daughters, we had been friends since Isabella was 3 they were essential to my team.  We added Stacy and her daughter, Stacie and her daughter and Deb's friend (and now my friend too!) Kristin and her daughter.  There were 7 families a total of 9 girls.  We call our little group Girltalk.

We all had similar values and morals, we were all Christians and desperately wanted our daughters to reflect that in all aspects of their life, whatever their age.  We knew that this is a hard time to be a kid, even harder to be a Christian kid and we wanted our girls to know that they weren't alone, even when it felt like they were.  We have been meeting on a regular basis for over 3 years now.  We have discussed everything from being a good friend to what an identity in Christ looks like, and SO MUCH more.  Isabella is stronger because of this group.  I am stronger because of this group.  Our relationship with each other is stronger because of this group.   

When I don't know what to say, or how to answer her questions, someone else in the group does.  When she doesn't feel like she can talk to me, she has 6 other women to choose from, women who will tell her the same thing I would.  She has 6 other women telling her she is beautiful just the way she is and that they are on her side and that she has what it takes to stand up for what it right even when she is the only one standing.   We share each others burdens and celebrate each others victories.  Raising pre-teens is easier because we are doing it together.   These women, and their daughters, are ESSENTIAL my life, and my daughters.