Mommy & Me
It’s early on a Wednesday morning when the moms start to trickle in. Lauren Samot of Livingston arrives with 6-month-old Daniella, who quickly notices the other babies – they register on her face as she rolls about on her belly in the soft play area at LifeTown. Some of the tots are barely old enough to lift their heads up as the sun streams in; others are already toddling around.
The mothers exude a sense of support and relief just being together. “It’s nice to get together, to connect and chat with the other moms in the same stage,” said Samot. “We’re all in the trenches. We understand why we look tired or frazzled, or are nervous about that 6-month doctor’s appointment. It’s so helpful to have this connection when we feel so isolated. It’s good for our mental health!”
As Esty Grossbaum welcomes them in, the babies seem attentive to her voice, her warmth, her singing. Along with the puppets and instruments, scarves and bubbles and dancing, there are stuffed Torahs to play with and Jewish songs and prayers to sing, including the Shema and “Twinkle, Twinkle, Cochavim [stars].”
One week the moms braided challah loaves to take home and bake for Shabbat. Samot appreciates the Jewish twist. Her favorite activity? When each baby gets to put a penny in a tzedaka box. “It’s really adorable,” she said.
Samot blocks out this hour each week for Mommy & Me despite her hectic schedule as a mom to Daniella and a 5-year-old son, and as a dietician working full time in innovation and development for a dietary supplement company. “It’s just quality time in a really nice environment,” she said.
A diverse crowd of moms are attracted to the program each week, which includes structured, as well as free, time to explore the play areas and the sensory rooms. Participants come from Maplewood and Caldwell, Florham Park and Morristown, as well as Livingston, and from across the religious spectrum. “It’s great to get out of my bubble and see different faces,” said Samot.
Mommy & Me at LifeTown, held Wednesdays from 9:30-10:30 am, is open to all moms and their babies ages 0-3. Register for one class at a time – no need to commit to a season all at once. $15 per session. For more information, visit www.fcnj.com/mommyandme.