Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Seeking Community

I come to this thought time and time again. The need to be surrounded by people. Real people. With real food. Not cyber friends or facebook posts which are just a daily stream of my "friends" thoughts.

I crave connection.

And I always think back to my days in California. Where I didn't have kids and Sam and I were still 'new'. The true mark of friendship, in my book, is the friend that can just stop by. Knock on the door and come in.

I had several friends out there that I could do that with.

And it was lovely. And they would arrive on my doorstep. And I'd open the door and welcome them in. To my messy house. To my imperfect meals. And we'd just talk. And share things. Share newly made bread. Fresh cookies. Fresh flowers. Othertimes we'd drink wine and share fondue. Those moments are now 6 years ago. Six long years. Six great years. Full of sleep deprivation. Early mornings. Diapers. Fun. New discoveries. Great victories. Small (first) steps.

I wouldn't trade.


I'd like some more community.

I think sometimes the computer enables us to hide behind the screen. Not reaching out. Not checking in on people in any real way. Not dealing with the reality of the messiness of life. And babies and kids make it harder. It is all about logistics. "Ok, if I were stop by, would I get home by nap? How would she be? If I brought him with me, would he melt down? What are her kids doing now? I'm sure I'd be interrupting. Oh. Forget it."

So I don't stop by. And I don't connect.

Somedays I have a big ole pity party about my 8 weeks on bedrest. It was the most isolating and stressful experience of my entire life. I had great support from friends. Daily emails, weekly check ins. But my friends weren't there in the flesh. Holding my hand. Sitting next to me to have a meal with me. And I craved that 'in person' sense. It wasn't as if they didn't want to be there- it was just that many live far away! I was so grateful for Umy, Andy, Rachel, my parents, and Whitney who met me at my house/at the hospital and sat with me in my 'sitting room'. Those moments were such GIFTS.

And I want to "be there" for others that are having a hard time. Or just need some respite. I want to be the person who drives in the car to arrive to say "I'm here. Let me know how I can help."

I want that. I want to do that. I want my kids to grow up in a house where that does happen. Where friends and family do 'drop everything' to be there.

But my dear friends are up to 3,000 miles away!

So my hope is that 2011 is the year of community. Not just friends but deep, real community. The open the door and welcome to my messy house type of friends. Where cleaning is nice but optional.

The bulk of this shift is within myself. And letting go of trying to be perfect. It will take putting myself out there with people. Offering up experiences to connect. And seeing what happens. The logistics will still be there. Naps will still need to be thought about and addressed. But my community can't just extend to 6-7 people.

I read on a blog last week that she described her life as a mother as 'shrinking to the size of a teacup'. I could relate to that as I became obsessed with sleep schedules, feeding patterns. But I know and she knows that life is bigger than that. There is much more outthere. Much more to experience and do. And it is possible with kids. Of course it is! Some of my most richest, most community minded moments surround my life with my children and husband. I don't want to say that it is either "rich community" OR "time with wee ones." That is oversimplying and unfair.
But I do hope that 2011 is the year of extending myself OUTWARD.

I feel like something BIG and hope filled is going to happen in 2011. I'm just not sure what yet. Join me!

Fondue anyone?


LauraC said...

You know about my Wednesday night ladies' night right? I may have mentioned it once on my blog but it's on the down low as there were specific people not invited.

Anyway we meet at my house every Wednesday for dessert and cocktails, that way we don't spend money. Whoever can make it, makes it. If Jon is not traveling, someone else may host. We've only skipped a few weeks (this week). Some weeks are awesome, some weeks we all have not much to say.

But since starting the group, we've had two babies born, two jobs lost, ill parents (one cancer, one serious infection), and so many ups and downs. Jon and Wednesday night are my constants.

I can't even describe what this experience has been for me. No matter the state of the house or the craziness of my life, I can always spare time on Wednesday nights. And it means that every week, I have the opportunity to see all my friends that I want to see.

Beth said...

I miss happy hours--meeting friends after work for drinks and/or dinner. I'm assuming my community will expand when William starts elementary school. And when we move. But part of my issue is that Ed does NOT crave community, so I have to balance my need to socialize and be around friends with his need to NOT do those things. He wants to focus on time for just me and him before we reach out to others. He has a point, but I still wish we had couples that we were close with. Very thought-provoking post!

Jessica {Team Rasler} said...

It's so weird how often I'll read your blog and feel like you are thinking what I'm thinking. If only I could knock on your door with some cookies and settle in for a real, in-person chat! I've been feeling much the same way and just hope that as the kids get bigger, I won't worry about dropping everything as much. I've been planning a post in my head called "answer the phone" in which I talk about my resolution to be more present and open to being with people in real life. We can be resolution buddies for 2011 and try to help each other along... even if it is virtual encouragement. ; )