Lucky 13! I am indeed lucky. I was reminded last night how good it is to have friends who you may not see often but as soon as you’re together, it’s easy and fun.
I had dinner last night with just such friends. Soon after my daughter was born I learned of the existence of a baby-sit co-op in my neighborhood. The trouble was, there were already more families in it than they could handle and a long wait list. Fortunately some of the wait listed families decided to start their own co-op and I was invited to join them. I was part of the co-op for twelve years.
From her earliest days my daughter was surrounded by other children her age and I had a network of parents to get advice from and to share lessons with. The co-op worked on the basis of an hour earned for babysitting could be spent on an hour of having someone sit for you. The kids never sensed they were being baby-sat. For them it was just another play date. We held monthly meetings where all the families met for a pot-luck brunch at member houses on a rotating basis and then at the local rec center. All the kids were around the same age. When they started attending the local elementary school – they had a built in network of friends from the co-op. They joined the local AYSO together. They were brownies and girl scouts together. They spend summers together – as part of local reading programs, camps, summer school and classes in everything from horseback riding to drama.My daughter is still friends with many of the girls she grew up with in that co-op and I count among my closest friends the parents I met as part of the co-op. We supported each other through croup and chickenpox. We helped each other figure out summer school and camp options. We formed carpools for middle school. We helped each other figure out college financing and how to cope with the sudden absence of children. Now we’re helping each other navigate the next stages of our lives.
I was an only child. I missed having siblings. The co-op was as close as I could get to providing my only child with an extended family. I did it for her but it ended up being the best thing I ever did for myself.