Friday, May 21, 2010

Livin' in a Lonely World

My endocrinologist’s office has the best magazines. It makes the wait to be poked with a syringe more bearable. While I was reading Friday, I came across an article that some of you may have heard about already. I don’t remember names or many specifics, but here is a quick summary:

A father of 3 year old twins finds out he has cancer and realizes he may miss some very important moments in his daughters’ lives. He starts forming a community of dads to be there for his kids in case he can’t. Each one of these men possesses a trait or quality that he wants his daughters to see and learn from. Luckily, the man is still alive, but his community building is continuing because, cancer or not, we do have to plan for the future of our kids.

Now, I have never bought into the idea of “it takes a village.” I saw a quote once that said, “I’ve seen the village, I’ll raise my own children, thanks.” I think most villages have more village idiots than people I actually want influencing my children. But what if I got to choose who lived in the village? What if Dennis and I built the community? It’s not about controlling every person my kids meet, but it is about making sure quality time is spent with people whose values we also value.

For the record, my sister and brother-in-law are the godparents and official guardians should anything happen to Dennis and me at the same time. Plus I expect both of our families to influence our children with their values and talents, so they are already built into the community. But who else would we include in our community? This man chose six people, so that seemed like a good place to start. Over our IHOP pancakes Dennis and I began brainstorming. That’s when we realized that living on the corner of anti-social behavior and hermitville for years has cost us something valuable: true friends.

To say we are friendless is not accurate. We both have acquaintances, and we have people in our lives who go past just the acquaintance status. However, between the two of us we thought of one person for my community of moms, a woman I have taught with for 4 years who I adore and expect Wren to be around tons anyway. That’s it. One. I teach with 77 teachers, I work a business on the side of my full time job, I am officially enrolled in six meet up groups, we attend church regularly, I used to work for a company where I estimate I came into contact with no less than 1000 people in my 5 years there, I lived out of state for a year, and though it’s far from a full proof indicator, I have 190 Facebook friends. I went to college, grad school, have a gym membership, and Dennis and I had four baby showers when I was pregnant with Wren. How did this happen?!?

T o gain some perspective, I spoke to the one person on my list. She feels like this is okay and even points to the fact that Dennis and I are passionate about our immediate family, and we like to spend time just us, Wren, and pregnant belly doing what we do. I agree our relationship is strong, and I think there is some truth to this. I know people who never see their spouses, are happy to spend time away from their kids when they have already been away from them all day, and that’s okay for them. It would never work for me. When Wren was 3 months old I cried because I didn’t want to go to the grocery store after work because I missed her so much. I didn’t go and we had take-out that night.

Basically, what you prioritize flourishes and what you don’t doesn’t. I have prioritized my family and I have amazing communication with my spouse and child. I feel in tune with them regularly. For this, I am proud. But God commanded me to love my neighbor, and in general, I’m supposed to care about people. My actual neighborhood neighbors are a mixed bag. Of the four I’ve met in our almost two years in the neighborhood, one household is full of insane, cuss at your television sports addicts, one household is as crazy busy as ours, and two have answered the door in their underwear when I came over. I am pro-naked, especially in your own house, but please put clothes on before answering the door. I have not enthusiastically headed back to either of those houses again.

So, I am not following the fellowship/friendship/love therefore by default get to know commandment very well at all. Part of it is not wanting to make time and the other part is I don’t really know how once you are 30 years old you get to know people you are just now meeting. I mean, I kind of know how, but there is no way those people are going to know me like one of my friends who knew me in kindergarten did. They will never know all the bad things I’ve done and love me anyway because I won’t tell them, so can they be true friends? And what most of my sort of friends know about me is pretty basic: I can’t smell so if it stinks like somebody tooted, it was probably me and I don’t know that it stinks; I am sarcastic; I stood on my head on Wren’s due date in a pool trying to convince her to turn from her breech position to a head down one so we could avoid a c-section. But my kids, if they are at all at an age of awareness when something happens to me, won’t need other people to tell them I’m weird. They will pretty much have that figured out on day one. So what I need is for people to be able to tell them who I was and then be the example they need to see a woman be. And I haven’t gotten to know anybody any better than I’ve let them know me, so I don’t know who these people are. Except one. Thirty years and one community member outside of my family.

I need to fix this. I have been craving fellowship more lately, but how do you balance it? Christian, mom, wife, daughter, sister, grandchild, full time job, on the side business, someone who does periodically crave alone time. All the roles and positions I love, but where does loving or even knowing others to build a community fit in? God, how do I do it?

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