We carefully made it to our destination a few minutes later. We knocked and Monkey's little friend opened the door, revealing two of my good friends and their children ready for our regular Friday playdate. Of all the things that save my sanity--a few weekly hours kid-free, nights out with my friends every few weeks, sleeping in once a week--it's these late afternoon reunions that serve me best. They started when Monkey was about a year old when I or one of my neighborhood friends would order some pizza, serve wine and have the others over for a glorified play date that I call "Wine & Whine."
After a week of hustling to work or getting the kids to school, waking up in the middle night, and exhausted from the continuous cycle of cooking and cleaning, spending time with my closest friends while my kids spend time with their closest friends is priceless. I love meeting at 4:30, tired and frustrated, and leaving at 6:30 with the children fed and me energized to face the bedtime routine. These nights let me reconnect with friends in person instead of subsisting on a diet of email updates and Facebook threads. They allow me to relax a bit, trusting that if my kids need a hand or redirection while I'm in the kitchen, another mom will step in without judgement.
As my friends and I have expanded their families, these nights also allow the tired mom a moment of peace as others hold and coo over the newest addition. We also get to solicit advice on the current parenting, relationship or work issue plaguing us and often organize times to meet for a run or at the playground over the weekend.
In the last year, a lot of my closest girlfriends have moved to one suburb or another and my neighborhood circle of friends has shrunk. Yet, as we get to know other moms in the vicinity, we've still managed to meet every few weeks for some pizza and wine. Last night was wonderful, as the kids played together without a single meltdown or fight over toys. My mother--who raised five kids of her own--came along and marveled at the companionship these friends and their kids provided. We left together with another mom, and as Monkey and her daughter held hands and walked across the street, babbling excitedly about the snow, I thanked my lucky stars for these friends, these children and these lovely Wine & Whine nights.