Villages

On Sunday afternoon we had three friends and their littles over for four and a half hours. In that time we, as a group, cooked four freezer meals in bulk and made dinner for everyone. Our kids played, we took turns helping the kids and stirring soup, and we had a nice time. None of the families knew each other but I knew all of them. It was great and I’m glad because it was the first of a monthly event this group is starting. Once a month we will get together, make some food for our freezers for a month, and share a meal together.

Gus sharing snacks on his favorite dog bed. 

The goal of this group is to create a village for our kids. To have families share in meals and kids play together regularly and make life easier for everyone. I am in another group like it – a group with weekly play dates. You go when you can (they are at different times and locations and on different days weekly) and you call out to them when you need help.

Holding hands with his buddy at a play date. 

These groups are great and have led to me strengthening connections with some folks. Outside of them I have made some good friends – friends I still have to invest energy into but friends who we enjoy spending time with. Friends that have kids that Gus loves. Gus loves the kids in these groups, too. In addition to these things friends who we have long loved told us at their wedding last weekend that in a few years they hope to adopt a child around the same age Gus will be and can’t wait to have them be cousins.

In three weeks Gus will be two and I am just starting to feel like I have some sort of village. It’s still building but I see it coming. This is huge for me as the first 18 months of his life were filled with so much sadness. I lost my three best friends in those 18 months. The reasons for those losses I simultaneously understand and don’t. I know the reasoning and can get it but struggle because I just would have handled things differently. But it is what it is now. I miss my old friends. I miss the comfort of my friend’s dining room table where we spent so much of our lives together – laughing, playing games, sharing meals. I miss their kids fiercely. I miss the ease at which we navigated a friendship and the comfort of feeling at home with them. I miss my other dear friend – a friendship that disseminated in the spring. I miss her laugh and her stories. I miss her take on life and honestly, her support as she was my biggest confidant (something that actually led to the end of our friendship so I also miss trusting people fully).

I look at those old friendships and the new ones and they are not the same. I don’t think they ever will be. I don’t think I will ever stop missing the old ones. But these groups of people who fill our lives and our home with laughter are pretty great and much needed. The first two years of Gus’ life were marked with a lot of sadness and while I know I cannot avoid carrying some of that forward I am eager to move into the next chapters with it’s weight being less heavy.

 

 

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Posted on September 21, 2016, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. I don’t think I truly understood how life-altering having a kid would be in the sense of friendships lost and the necessity for new ones to be made. It’s really shitty how and why you lost the friends you did and I completely understand the lingering sense of loss. It’s different for me in that my closest friendships before having D were all formed in California with people that are still there. My life has completely changed and most of theirs haven’t, so I suspect our friendships would have changed no matter what, but I really, really miss the ease and comfort of those earlier friendships. As an introvert, I don’t often initiate outings with friends, but that wasn’t something I ever once had to worry about with those friends – they always made a point of inviting me out and I didn’t have to even think about making that first move to be social. For many reasons, that’s not the case here and it’s hard for me. I’m very grateful for the village that’s really starting to form here and the help that’s offered. Taking people up on it will always be hard for me, though. Also, the idea of getting together with other families to prepare freezer meals is an amazing one! I’m glad we are both in this community raising our boys and hope we can continue to strengthen both our and our boys’ friendship, but our village as well.

    • I totally agree about having a hard time initiating plans. It’s so different when you have a kind of set plan with people than having to really do the work. Add in nap times, and bed time, and other life things and it is just so so hard. We’ll be here for anything you need after baby girl is born (and before!). I think sometimes I think that you have a ton of help – and in some ways you do with both moms – but then I need to remember that help from moms (and the strings that I am guessing comes along with it) is not always what is needed. I’m so glad our boys have each other and the other kiddos in our little town.

      • Yeah, mom help is awesome and wonderful, don’t get me wrong, and I know I get more help than a lot of others, but it’s not the answer to all my problems. Haha. H’s mom is pretty clear about how much she’s willing to help, as you know. Lately, she’s just not around much to help beyond Thursdays while I’m at work; she usually gets into town Wednesday evenings and is then out the door as soon as I get home Thursdays. And she’s already expressed she doesn’t want to babysit anymore than she does now once baby girl is here. My mom would help all day every day if I asked her despite how obvious it is how unsustainable that would be. So I try really hard not to ask her for help beyond Mondays (again, work) and Friday date nights, which happen about every other week now. Sometimes, if an appt has to be scheduled during nap time, I’ll have ask her to come over and stay with D until I get back. But yeah, I try really hard not to call her for help if I’m simply having a bad morning or H is working late or whatever. I worry a lot about burning her out.

      • I’d also imagine sometimes you just want to be able to say, “Come over because my kid is being a brat today and I can’t take it” and don’t really want to hear about how he is wonderful and prefect and just want someone to bring another kid and coffee over.

      • Omg, yes. So, so, so much.

  2. The freezer meal focus is brilliant. We have a playdate group like the one you describe–it grew out of multiple such groups that merged together and has even spun off into a babysitting co-op and book club and probably other stuff that I can’t think of now. I am so grateful to the moms who started it/them; even now that our kids are in school full-time and some of the families have moved away, the bond is still there. And we also have a group of families that we do monthlyish brunch with which grew out of one of the postpartum support groups my wife went to. Amazing that they have lasted all these years. Yay villages!

    • I love a big play date. I think it allows you to connect with some folks and ignore the ones you don’t mesh with. It’s so cool that yours are still going strong! Even if it isn’t what it once was it’s so nice for kids to have some sort of community.

  3. I’m so glad you are building a community and friendships. I am jealous of the strength of that community. Obviously, I’m missing all kinds if connection right now, but even in Colorado we only had a few friends and almost none with kids. It’s also so sad that you had close friendships end, my heart hurts for you on that account. Making friends as an adult is so fucking hard!

    • It is so hard. I actually think there would be a huge advantage at this point to moving to a new city with a small child. You have to make new friends because it’s a new city AND you have to make new friends because you have a kid so at least you can kill two birds with one stone.

  4. I LOVE this idea. Raising a family takes a village, and it is so true that in North American society now we tend to lose that village when we have a family… Counter productive. Good for you for taking the initiative to rebuild your village.

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