Supriya Menon is a former BBC News journalist and an independent writer based in KeralaÂ right now. Sheâ€™s busy chasing her ambition when sheâ€™s not chasing after her toddler.
I have always relied on my friends for help when making decisions in my adult life. Being anÂ only child, my circle of close friends has been my sounding board for all things good andÂ nasty. However, when my baby was born two years ago, I found myself floundering. None ofÂ my friends had babies. I was the first one in my group to cross over to the other side! TheÂ Internet was my go-to place for all queries. I spent countless bleary-eyed nights poring overÂ images of poop, wondering if my babyâ€™s matched up to the myriad hues on display!
I missed talking to someone about my babyâ€™s milestones and my concerns over every newÂ hair and tooth that sprouted. At the same time, I was wary of becoming one of those mumsÂ who obsessively shares every single detail about her new baby to her (yet to have babies)Â friends. And frankly, their stories of work and parties were far more engaging than myÂ nightly feeding tales. If any, it provided a welcome break from my world of feeding, burping,Â cleaning and then repeat, on endless loop.
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But when my daughter turned one, I knew she and I both needed friends. My patience forÂ internet searches was wearing thin and I knew I needed to meet other mommies. It wasÂ then that an acquaintance with a child younger than mine, whom I was constantly badgeringÂ for play dates, decided to make a play group. It had 7 of us with kids ranging from 6 monthsÂ to my daughter who, at 1.5 years, was the oldest. I missed the first few play dates.Â Circumstances, and initial apprehension probably, could be blamed. I had already madeÂ friends for life and I sucked at this meet new people game.
Finally, after my initial inertia, I mustered the courage and took my baby for a play date to aÂ total strangerâ€™s house. To my surprise and relief, my baby and I both had a great time. Here,Â I didn’t have to apologise for my childâ€™s misdemeanours. I didn’t have to worry if she wasn’tÂ eating or sleeping. There were other mums with other stories, their take on theÂ motherhood narrative telling me it’s okay. Clueless doesn’t necessarily mean clued out.
For my baby, the play groups were a source of learning new songs and playing with differentÂ toys. Of course she now had her own set of buddies, but sharing or playing with them wasÂ another story altogether. As for me, I learnt the trick of talking to someone else whileÂ keeping an eye on my child the whole time!
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Research tells me that these early friendships help in her cognitive development. Her abilityÂ to see and grasp what her peers are doing and emulate them benefitted to a certain extent. But at aÂ deeper level, she knows these are her friends and asks for them while at home. As for me, IÂ am now busy checking out prospective schools for my baby along with some of the otherÂ mums.
As several of our play groupâ€™s younger members turn one, I am truly happy to see theirÂ achievements and celebrate them just like my daughterâ€™s. I know we all may not be in touchÂ a decade from now, but that hasn’t stopped me from already thinking about a reunion whenÂ my toddler turns 18. Who knows how this bunch will turn out?
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