On loneliness and community

I grew up in a huge and close extended family. My mom has nine sisters, all mostly local, so we didn’t really need family friends; we had relatives. To this day, birthday parties are big and jovial affairs. Christmas is a festive production. Recitals and big games are attended by at least ten people all rooting that one cousin on.

By contrast, my husband grew up far enough away from his extended family that he struggles to remember his (two, maybe) cousins names. His family had close family friends with whom they vacationed, adventured, and traded babysitting.

I’m lonely and isolated these days because I grew up like me but am living in a life more like my husband’s. Without a ready-and-willing crew of twenty or thirty or fifty people, you have to make the effort to build and maintain a community.

Sara does this well. I do not. True to my general willingness to admit my weaknesses, then, I cried uncle and asked for help.

First, I finally acted on an idea I’ve had for a while: to start a Spanish playgroup. Taking advantage of a like-minded group of people, I sent an email to the parents in my son’s class to see who would be interested before I went ahead and figured of a structure. On day one, I got positive responses from seven families.

Then, I reached out to an old neighbor and new friend to ask if we could hang out. A family get-together with the first and girls night with the second are in the works.

I’m ready to pull the trigger on a beach vacation with my bestie and her family. Late chatty nights, here we come.

And, I’m even more determined to make a crazy little idea I had happen. I want to move to my hometown for part of the summer. Not visit, but live. Have my son hang out with his people and my husband and I get to escape without concern as though we lived in the same town all the time, den for just a little while.

I was lucky to grow up the way I did. I will have to work harder to give my son the same sense of his people, whether they’re related or not. I will.

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