Folks We Love with Betsy Edelberg of Playgroup LA
Tell us a little bit about your journey and how you’ve come to arrive here.
If here is the “now,” then it took a lot of letting go of the past and shedding every story I ever told myself about me and my life, and a willingness to grow, grow up and enjoy life.
I grew up in a hi rise building across the river from Manhattan, I could see the skyline from my window. I moved into my friend’s at 16. I went to college and withdrew early and moved to NYC. I started a clothing line. I went went majorly through the school of hard knocks. I moved to LA and went through many life changes including death of loved ones and starting my family. I changed my career and got certified to teach kids yoga and did a lot of private work and schools, working with little ones became a forte and I worked around the clock. I simultaneously started working for a developmental/sensory-based mommy-and-me which began to open my eyes about human development and neuroscience. Took loads of courses–still do. Started my own program that reflected both my intuition and understanding of child development. The program offered a unique mix of mommy-and-me yoga, art, music and sensory play, which slowly evolved into the gentle parent-child program I offer today.
Who’s in your family? Ages? Names?
Myself and Randell, grown ups–ageless. Mudi 11, Mirth 5 and Dhyana 4 months
How did you choose your kids names?
Names are a big deal. Raised Jewish, we name to honor those who have passed so M is for my dad, Michael, who died when I was pregnant with Mudi (still missed him whilst naming Mirth) and D is for my mom, Dolly, who died when I was pregnant with Dhyana.
Their names have meaning beyond that as well:
Mudi is from the word “Mu” which indicates a zen-like emptiness experienced after hours of mediation, desireless-ness. Mirth is an antique word as I like to call it, which means happiness and joy. I always loved the feel of the word. I used to think of it once a year like a holiday– I’m a word person. It came to me (on my annual holiday) when I was pregnant in LA traffic, and I said yes, that’s the name! We would have used it for a boy as
well. My mother died suddenly this summer and in some of my mournful sleeplessness I would get into deep peaceful states and get into soul searching. In the middle of the night, I revisited Buddhism and there was aspect of Dhyana, the deep meditation that is just before Enlightenment. I experienced profound stillness and inner calm, and I shared the name with Randell in the AM–or by text in middle of night–Randell, who had rejected every name heretofore, loved it more than me. Mudi later discovered in her studies that it is believed an Angel comes to you and whispers the name of your baby, I believe that.
Mommy and Me! I own and run a “nature-centered” (both Mother Nature and human nature) parent-child program, Playgroup Los Angeles
What’s on your manifest board?
I should apparently have a manifest board.
Tell us some of your most loved ways to spend the day with your clan?
Time together will do wonders for us, when we have time to be in the same place all at once we fully exploit it, usually in nature. We tend to be at soccer games on the weekends for 2 of the 3 girls, and otherwise we like to do playful active things. We are into places like the Descanso Gardens, going on local road trips and anything competitive–we’ve gotten into heated and hilarious feuds over croquet. I like to say Randell is the most competitive person you’ll ever meet, but it’s probably me. And I am the worst winner.
What are some silly/fun things that the kids do or say?
Every day is great for fun things said and done. I like how Mirth currently pronounces things like “renember” and “I already ready did that.” I also enjoy when writes a few letters on paper and tells me what it says in essay form, but better than that is when she says, “read it!” (Out loud) Mudi does this hip hop thing that drives me nuts and I thought she just picked it up and it was her own thing. Then we were at her soccer all star game and this group of jock girls from all over started “hitting the quan,” and doing the whole song and dance. The best part was all the parents being struck as I was that *all* the kids did too, and we had a great laugh talking about how very annoying it was to us all at home. It became very endearing.
When you were a teenager what did you dream of? Do things look different?
There was a quote I remember completely identifying with as a teen, and I don’t know who said it or the exact phrasing, but it was something like: I want to leap out of myself and then leap from the leaping. I must have dreamt of freedom and autonomy and a wild and interesting life. Things look extraordinarily different. I think of my teenage self as a grown toddler on the one hand, and yet I admire how much hearty belly laughter I experienced daily.
What are some things you really believe in?
I believe that I cannot change a person, place or thing, which is a good thing because I believe I cannot possibly see the entirety of any person or situation. I believe in prayer and meditation. I believe in striving to do good for goodness sake. I believe in God.
Where do your passions lie?
My passions lie in truth, and therefore being courageous enough to let go of a litany of stories and opinions to see what is revealed. My passions lie in constant mindful reflection, hopefully I can be more loving and more lovable.
Has your relationship with your other half changed since having kids?
Yes, we are each other’s spiritual sandpaper and as a result we have both become softer but not without a lot of grit.
What are some of your favorite life lessons you’ve grown to love? (even if learning them at the time was hard)
What other people think, say, do is none of my business and tells me about them and who they are, not me! Even if it has your name on it, it’s not personal. Our family is the most important influence and we then go places like school.
What do you wish you could’ve told yourself when you were a teenager?
I wouldn’t have listened! Probably keep the focus only on positive, life affirming things. This too shall pass. Feelings are not personal, they will pass and must not dictate your life, ideas and activity.
What do you find most challenging about being somebody’s parent?
Thinking about my children as adults, not knowing what kind of adults they will be and the story they will have about their childhood. What do you want your kids to learn about the world? They have a purpose here, just being here begins their fulfillment. Don’t get too attached, wear the world like a loose garment. Find the humor in everything.
What are 4 things you can’t live without as a parent?
Lattes, Amazon Prime, loving community, and time for myself alone.