Giving Thanks for My Parent Talk Village

“It takes a village to raise a child.” – African proverb

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My babies, Kiera and Padraig, in 2011.  Photo credit: J+R Photography 

I remember when the first wave of panic set in. My husband told me that he had a five day work trip right after we closed on our new Needham home. Images of eight-month pregnant me, sitting defeated on our living room couch next to our 21-month-old daughter, surrounded by countless unpacked moving boxes, filled my mind. Thankfully, my godmother from New Jersey swooped to the rescue and stayed with us that first week and helped me unpack. But it made me wonder, what had we done? Why did we move away from our village in New Jersey?

Moving had never been an issue for me before. I moved from Singapore to Illinois for college, then to New Jersey upon graduation, and then to Massachusetts for my husband’s work. But the move of merely 9.1 miles with 1.5 kids, from the South End in Boston to Needham, was terrifying. Aside from a few of my husband’s colleagues, we did not know anyone (or, technically speaking, I did not know anyone). Yes, people comforted me with, “You will meet people when your kids are in school.” But how was I going to survive being isolated in the suburbs for the next three years before our firstborn entered kindergarten?

“You need to join Parent Talk,” my husband’s colleague’s wife stated matter-of-factly. So I did.
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The 2-year-olds from our playgroup with friends, nicknamed the “Bigs,” at Spooky Walk in 2011.
It was a slow introduction to Parent Talk, just because getting out of the house with two kids (a 2-year-old and an infant) by myself was almost impossible. So, as a start, we attended PT’s family events (e.g., Frosty’s Festival, Story Time with Elmo) to maintain the critical one-to-one adult to kid ratio. Then, we graduated to the PT parenting lectures which gave us a few more tools to add to our parenting toolbox. And the YMCA discount for Parent Talk members was phenomenal! It pretty much made up for the membership fee, assuming we made it to the gym. And then we hit the jackpot — Playgroup.

We were arbitrarily assigned to one of several playgroups based on our daughter’s age. This meant that we were coming into a playgroup that had started two years ago, and had grown to include 20 to 30 families. Not intimidating, right? But after I sent the initial awkward email introduction about our family, there was an immediate response. “Hello. Welcome to our playgroup. Like you, we are all in the trenches. It does get easier. We meet at the Playspace or Perry Park every Friday morning. Join us.”

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The “Bigs” a few years later with younger siblings, the “Littles,” at Spooky Walk. in 2015.

The relief I felt was palpable. No pressure to host others, no pressure to attend every playgroup gathering. Come as you are, when you can. After my kids and I got into the swing of these weekly Friday playdates, an interesting thing happened. These were not just playdates for my kids, they became my playdates too.  
What an incredible group of moms, dads, caregivers and kids — generous, kind, fun, creative, organized, intelligent, and honest. This group was a source for vacation ideas, contractor recommendations, recipe swaps, and sharing parenting ups and downs. This was group parenting at its best, as we exchanged candid and valuable information. We worked at Parent Talk Sales together, attended family events (Memorial Day Picnic at DeFazio Park, Spooky Walk), volunteered for meal trains, socialized at Moms’ Nights Out (and Away!), and there were even a few poker nights for dads. Through life’s best and worst moments, we have been there to support each other.

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Mom’s Night Away, Portland, Maine, 2015.

It has been a little over four years since our family moved to Needham. We honestly thought we would head back to New Jersey when the appropriate job opportunity for my husband came up in the New York or New Jersey area. The PT playgroup changed that trajectory. Our playgroup has morphed into our extended family. My husband and I no longer feel the need to move. We know in our hearts that Needham is home and this is where our family can grow roots. And it all started with Parent Talk.

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful to Parent Talk for helping me build my village.

About the author
Joyce McCafferty is an unexpected stay-at-home Needham mom. She is so glad that her husband chose to relocate to Needham because that one choice set into motion so many wonderful events

EDITOR’S NOTE: This Thanksgiving holiday is the perfect time to take a moment to consider and share all of the things we are thankful for. If you have your own story of gratitude for the Parent Talk village, an experience, PT’s offerings, events, or anything else, please share it with us with the Comments section below. Or join us on on Facebook and Twitter, beginning your story with “I am thankful to Parent Talk for . . . ” and tag it with #Thankful4PT.


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