South Strand Moms

Playdates Required

Young moms with their kids

Playdates Required

by Erin Spatz

One of the most magical things about becoming a parent is playdates. Hear me out on this. You have been at home for approximately 183 days straight with a toddler who is mad that you because you can’t or won’t cut their sandwich into a hexagon, and a newborn trying to turn nursing and no sleep into an Olympic sport. You are on the verge, but you remember that you have an upcoming playdate with a whole group of moms for you to commiserate with, while your shape-demanding toddler plays. This is what makes it magical. You are in a safe space. Your children are in a safe space.

I know that you are thinking that the worst thing about having sweet babies grow up is that they are no longer babies. You are wrong. The worst thing about not having sweet babies is no longer having playdates where there are other moms to commiserate with. It feels like the moment your kids hit kindergarten all play dates disappear. Which is terrible timing. Playdates are necessary even after the toddler stage because little kids are weird! If anything, you need to be around other kids to realize that while yes, your kid is in fact a weirdo, they are not the weirdest. You need to see how other moms of other weirdos are parenting. To see that you are in fact not ruining your kid just yet. It’s reassurance with snacks. Who doesn’t need that?
Playdates are also needed during the smelly, eye-rolling pre-teen phase. I am here to tell you that no matter what you say to a pre-teen there will be eye-rolling. I often thought maybe they weren’t rolling their eyes but were having some sort of allergic reaction to my voice. I am not sure which one makes me feel better though… disrespectful eye rolling, or allergy to my voice. It really is a toss-up.
Teenagers are truly a whole other situation. There is sometimes less eye- rolling but a lot more talking with attitude. According to teenagers, I am in fact the dumbest person on the planet. I am also the meanest. Raising teenagers is a buck wild ride! It’s a lot like driving through without brakes. You cannot stop the car the best you can do is hold on and drive as safely as you can while hoping everyone survives. It’s not great! This is why playdates while raising teenagers should be a thing.
The teenagers don’t have to come! There is a ton of emotional turmoil in the valley of the shadow of death known as parenting teenagers. I mean, there are curfews,driving deadly weapons known as cars, and dating. And as the parents, you are supposed to know how to help your beloved teenager navigate all that when it feels like you’ve just barely gotten your own life together. I know that we are all not talking about all the drama that comes with trying to guide our teenagers while making an effort to protect their privacy, but what about our sanity? I often truly have no idea what the actual heck I am doing. I know other parents of teenagers have no idea either.
We have come a long way in normalizing different parenting styles when it comes to raising babies, toddlers, and little kids. We haven’t done such a great job in that area when it comes to pre-teens and teenagers. Because we are not talking about the parts that truly make parenting pre-teens and teenagers scary. We haven’t normalized talking about our teens’ mental health struggles or worrying that they will make a fatal choice; something you can’t save them from. We haven’t normalized talking about how hard it is to let your precious child walk out the consequence of their bad choice. We don’t talk about those things until they’ve already happened, and we are forced to say it out loud to others.
But what if we were talking about it?
Talking about it often, and with other parents of teens? What if all that support you felt when you had a toddler or a newborn could be felt while raising teenagers? What would that do for your mental health? It’s as if we reach a point in our parenting journey where there is some unwritten rule that we’ve collectively agreed that we no longer need a village to help raise our kids.
It’s just not true.
The transition from child to teenager is often hard. It is also hard on parents. Our role changes, and some of us do not adapt well (it’s me. I don’t adapt well). The struggle to adjust can lead to loneliness. It doesn’t have to be that way.
The simple cure for that is talking about it.

Nothing makes another person feel more seen than when they hear the words “You are not the only one.” Let’s move forward, not being afraid to say “You are not the only one. Me too.”

About the Author: Erin M. Spatz fell backward into her writing career and is grateful every day for that accident. She and her husband, Eric have been blissfully married for 24 years and together they have six kids, as well as two crazy dogs. They have lived happily for 17 years in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina. You can find her on all the socials at Erin M.Spatz. (Photo Credit: Meghan Whitney)

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