These are my first thoughts about my experience in the 1980s being one of the founding members of an extraordinary community playgroup:
One day in 2007 on my way to work, I noticed a giant billboard on Park Drive in Belgrave South advertising an anniversary celebration BBQ coming up for the Belgrave Lake Playgroup. I was amazed and delighted to think that the little group we started all those years ago was still functioning, and not just surviving but obviously blooming!
We had a strong and inclusive bunch of women and men, parents who wanted to fully enjoy time with their babies and toddlers; and when we saw an opportunity to set up a central place rather than moving from home to home each week, we jumped at the chance to renovate the disused Belgrave Lake Caravan Park caretaker’s cottage.
Sherbrooke Councillor, Pam Yarra, was instrumental in helping us with our submissions to Council for permission to use the cottage and to make it suitable for small children. We ran various raffles, cake stalls as well, to help in purchasing the practical bits and pieces, toys, small scale furnishings, etc.
At the same time, I think, there was only one Toy Library in Victoria (Noah’s Ark) in the city, about an hour travel time by car, but we decided we would have our very own local toy library as well. We felt we could do anything if we wanted it enough!
SCTL – Sherbrooke Community Toy Library
I didn’t belong to a Mothers’ group in 1978 when our first son was born. Living far away from both sets of parents, and having lost my mum to cancer when I was 10 years old, I certainly would have benefited from the support of such a group. But I have a strong independent streak and felt I should be able to cope with the support of my heroic husband. And cope I did, and I love being a mum to our two sons. But I realise in retrospect it could have been an even more joyful experience for me if I had shared it with other like minded people.
So two and a half years later, when son number two arrived, I was well and truly ready to embrace the shared experience and fun of our playgroup. I was introduced by Rhonda Jenkin, I think. She was a local mum, a primary school teacher, who ran a small three year old kinder group from her home in the local area. She was an amazingly relaxed mother with a family of 6 growing boys. Number one son attended her group and loved it.
By just being her authentic self she encouraged me not to mother ‘alone’, if you know what I mean.
My husband and I were reminiscing whilst I was writing this. We had trouble remembering everyone and where they fitted in, timelines, etc.
As he said:
“At the time you are busy living your life and you think you’ll never forget the details”.
I remember the feelings more than the specifics. I felt empowered and supported!
LONG LIVE THE BELGRAVE LAKE PARK PLAYGROUP!