If you’re a parent, you know the feeling. You’ve brought a baby into this world and the first thing that pops into your head is, “Now what?” You learn the basics of sleep patterns, changing a diaper, eating habits, and more, but chances are, there are aspects of the emotional and social part of being a parent that you didn’t anticipate.
According to psychologist Peter Gray Ph.D., “Children are not designed, by nature, to attach just to the mother, or just to the mother and father. They are, for good biological reasons, designed to form multiple attachments, to many of the people in a community.”
A late-in-life pregnancy left local mom, Julie Johnson, feeling disconnected from the other moms she knew. At age 40, Julie had a ton of friends, but all of their kids were going into middle school and high school. Instead of helping plan prom, Julie was focused on basic infant care for her now-four-year-old son, Asher. “I started searching for a mom’s group where I could meet up with other moms and feel connected,” says the St. Augustine native. “Parenthood is hard and not having support, for whatever the reason, is even harder.” When Julie happened upon St Augustine Moms Group on Facebook, she was bummed to learn that the group hadn’t been kept up for years.
Originally created in 2010 by Jenny Krejci, St Augustine Moms Group fell dormant when Jenny’s kids “aged out” of the group. That is until Julie came along. She became administrator last February and has grown the group to nearly 1,000 members. “My biggest focus over the past year-and-a-half has been to get a good mixture of people to join the group; moms, dads, grandmas, caregivers – whoever needs a support system,” Julie explains. “My one rule that I hold fast on is that everyone is included in all of our activities. I don’t plan something unless the entire group is invited. It’s important to have a place of inclusion.”
A diverse and inclusive parent community brings with it positive benefits to all involved. Whether it’s an afternoon at the Pirate Museum or a morning at the local firehouse, spending time with those typically outside of your social or economic status help parents and children learn life values from others. “If I can connect people and stop just one mom from feeling all alone, my work is worth it,” Julie says. “Maybe a few crazy posts and playdates might not seem important on the surface, but to some moms out there, they are. I hope in the long-run, this group will make a difference.”
Written by Kara Pound. Photography by Richard Dole.