I met Amy and Wendy a few years ago when we lived in West Virginia. Together we formed, along with our friend Angelle, the greatest playgroup that ever was – truly. As much as the group was for the kids, it was for us, too; we weren’t ashamed to admit that. Playgroup was a priority for each of us. We met faithfully each week. We didn’t have to do anything elaborate. We just enjoyed being together. It was like magic the way all four of us clicked. You know how hard it is to find one good friend. Well, there I was with three. It seemed too good to be true, and I guess it was, because then, we moved away. And so did Angelle. Our playgroup was over.

Since then, we’ve stayed in touch and yesterday Dave, the girls and I spent the day with Wendy and Amy and their families. It was great!. No – “great!” is an understatement. It was like finding an oasis after wandering the desert. I interact with many different people, mostly moms, each day of the week, but it’s usually very superficial. It’s the kind of interaction where they ask you how you are, but they really don’t want to know how you are, they just want you to say fine and move on with it. Being with Wendy and Amy was revivifying. And comfortable. Because I can be myself with them. They love me. Even in sweatpants. And though I talk a lot, they don’t make me feel like I talk too much. They let me think out loud. They encourage me to say more.

We ate some good food and talked while our kids just played. So often I find myself hovering over Julia as she plays to be sure that she doesn’t offend anyone and, if she does, that her mistakes are swiftly corrected. It felt good to relax and give the kid a break because every oops wasn’t being viewed as evidence that I’m a bad parent. It felt good to just be, without judgment. To just talk, without censoring. I need that every so often. Because, some days, it feels like life’s a competition and the world is full of takers and critics. So, I cherish the time I spend with these amazing women who have a way of making me feel like I’m okay, special even, like I matter. They save me from cynicism and I am so very grateful.