Where moms and toddlers network

By Jane Flanagan

Downtown Express photo by Jane Flanagan

Ullya played while the mothers talked at this month’s “Mom’s Network” at the Garden Cafe.

Chairs block the entrance to a room at the Garden Cafe in south Battery Park City where half-a-dozen toddlers scamper about.

The “Mom’s Network” is in session, a monthly meeting sponsored by the Battery Park City Neighbors and Parents Association. Mothers and small children have been gathering here for several years, sharing stories of sleepless nights and milestones such as successful potty training.

Judging from the turnout and conviviality at the July meeting, undoubtedly many women have developed friendships here, often expanding them beyond the walls of the restaurant.

So strong were the ties for Monika Dralle, that when her maternity leave ended, she sent her mother Martina in her place. Now Martina sits bouncing 4-month-old Amilia on her lap chatting with her daughter’s friends. Martina even participated in a Wednesday-afternoon playgroup that Monika helped form.

The group’s format is an informal one with most of the time spent chatting and occasionally relaxing in a room that is pretty-well childproofed. With the room to themselves, mothers also don’t have to worry about a noisy toddler disturbing other patrons.

Each of the14 mothers and one grandmother at the July meeting introduced themselves, sharing a tidbit about her child

Ahu Terzi said her mother reported that her five-month-old crawled for the first time, although, she, herself, had yet to witness it.

“It doesn’t count until you see it,” joked Melissa Berman, from the other side of the room.

The conversations, which took place over coffee and pastries donated by the Cafe, which also donates the room each month – steered to neighborhood goings on as well. One mother spoke about how much she liked the new water park at Pier 51 near Jane St. in the Village. Another reported on a great toy store she discovered near the same park.

Word of the group seems to spread quickly among new mothers. A few months ago Sun-Hee Chrysikopoulos found herself at the pediatrician’s office feeling exhausted and at a loss. Her daughter was a month-old and Chrysikopoulos’ mother, who came to help out after the baby was born, had just returned home.

“I had tears in my eyes,” she said. “I was feeling so overwhelmed.”

But sitting nearby was Josephine Antonio, an organizer of the Mom’s Network.

“I am so glad she was there that day,” said Chrysikopoulos, who attended last week’s meeting, smiling and looking relaxed.

The group meets the third Tuesday of the month from 10:30 a.m. until noon at the Garden Cafe, 301 South End Ave. The next meeting will be Tuesday, Aug. 19 when a local family physician, Dr. Cheryl Carrau, is scheduled to speak.


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