I live in the best neighborhood. No really. I don’t mean to boast, but I don’t know how we got so lucky (blessed?) The people that live near my family are the salt of the earth. And I don’t know how I would do this parenting thing without them.
When Addison was born and we decided I would be a stay-at-home mom, I knew exactly NO ONE with a baby in Las Vegas. I was suddenly thrust into this world of diapers and crying, and spit-up, and did I mention crying? Addison cried A LOT that first year. I’m pretty sure I did too. But the one thing that consistently gave me something to look forward to each day was knowing that my neighbor who has a son the exact same age as Addison, would be home from work by 4:00. Almost every day I RAN to her house with my grumpy baby to find comfort in someone who was going through the same season of life as me. If I can be honest for a minute, we had absolutely NOTHING in common other than our kids at that point. But it didn’t matter. We just needed that one common denominator.
I’m sure she dreaded my visits. She taught all day then came home to hang out with her baby (who was NEVER grumpy, by the way…). And there I was, regular like clockwork, looking for a grown-up to talk to. She was always so welcoming even though she must have been exhausted. And through these visits I was able to get the encouragement I needed to keep going, and a beautiful friendship developed.
Fast-forward five years, and the neighborhood is absolutely BURSTING with awesome families and awesome kids. Prayers really do get answered. The community that has developed here is truly a gift. These are the people who mobilized at the drop of a hat to take care of my children and bring me meals when Wyatt ended up in the ICU unexpectedly. These are the people who fill the freezer of the mom who just had a baby. These are the people who watch each other’s kids so we don’t have to take them with us to the doctor. These are the people who text and say, “I’m running to the store. Need milk?” These are the friends who take your one-day-old baby during naptime so you can sleep. Like I said, it’s a gift.
Cultivating a community like this doesn’t happen over night. And it definitely takes work. But really, what could be more important to invest your time in than developing relationships with people? Does my house get destroyed when we invite everyone over to do science experiments in the backyard? For sure. Is it sometimes inconvenient to take dinner to a friend “just because”? Yep. Is it a little chaotic when we all have lunch together? Sure is. But you know what? The craziness and the inconveniences, and the messes are all so worth it. In the end, the moms have a chance to talk about something other than “Jake and the Neverland Pirates”, and the kids get to hang out with their friends. The moms are able to encourage one another and develop the tightest of friendships, and the kids learn to peacefully coexist (sometimes). As a result, none of us has to go it alone.
I want to encourage you today to begin developing a community like this for your family if you don’t already have one. The families don’t have to live nearby (although that is awesome). It really does take a village to raise a child. And if you’ve got a bunch of kids, your village should be even stronger. Who can you reach out to next week? Who can you invite over for lunch? Offer to bring a friend a meal. Stop by with a coffee for no reason. Offer to keep her kids so she can go to Target alone. Chances are very good that she will reciprocate. And really, who DOESN’T want to go to Target alone?? Folks, this is the good stuff.
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