Finding a Village of my Own

Will I feel depressed with too much rain? Will I feel isolated? How will I keep from getting lost? These were just some of the fears I had when I decided to trade the comforts of small-town eastern Washington for a chance to pursue my dreams in Portland.  My fears shifted a year later when my boyfriend and I decided to buy a home, get engaged and settle down.  How can I raise kids in a city? Who will help keep an eye on them?
 

As I mentioned in, ‘It Takes a Village’, my mom built much of her support network in our small town.How could I possibly replicate that type of support in the big city?  I didn’t have the answers, but I figured many others had done it before me.  So, we decided to jump into a 30-year mortgage.

 I had friends, I had lots of them actually.  The problem was that most of them didn’t live in Portland. Many of my friends from childhood and college got married & had kids on a similar timeline, and are still some of my best friends to this day.  As much as I wished that we could have all just settled in the same little neighborhood and raised our kids together, that’s obviously not what happened. Some of them are only a few hours away, others are in California or Arizona, one even moved half way across the world to Germany.   No matter how far apart we are, these wonderful women will always be a part of my village. A text or a phone call can make any day better and when we get together it’s like we haven’t missed a beat.  These friends have been there for me through my highest highs and lowest lows. They are absolute treasures and we all try to make time to stay in touch and see one another. But as great as they are, I firmly believe that mom’s also need great friends in their geographic area. These friends can be harder to find.  Not because they aren’t out there, but because people are busy.  We work, we are raising families, and we tend to over commit resulting in very busy schedules.
 
 

I was no different than most people. Before kids I was working about 60 hours a week and every weekend seemed to be filled with something.  However, slowly but surely, our local support network continued to grow and now even in the big city, I feel like I belong. In all honestly, part of our support system was luck. For instance, as our neighborhood filled in house by house, we kept getting really great families as neighbors.  A sweet couple moved into the house with the best front porch, which quickly became a neighborhood congregation point. Because of their hospitality, we all got to know one another over glasses of wine or whiskey as we chatted, laughed or competed in ping pong tournaments. It can be so easy to just go home and go about your lives, but these afternoons on the porch were an integral part of our neighborhood truly becoming a neighborhood.  Four years later, these are still the same people we chat with on sunny days as the girls bike around the neighborhood. These are still the same people that watch out for us and we can call in an emergency.  It’s amazing how a friendly hello and an adult conversation with a neighbor can mix up the chaos of a day when your twins are teething and you’re ready to pull out your hair.

 I also lucked out in that I had some really great co-workers that became my dear friends.  One of them had college-aged kids & she always had the best advice for work and for life.  She was one of the biggest reasons I didn’t want to step-down. Thankfully I still get to see her occasionally and I love spending time with her and try to soak up any advice she offers. I also had a couple co-workers and friends that were pregnant the same time as me. At the time I didn’t realize what a blessing this would be.  Our kids were born during cold & flu season. In the Pacific Northwest, this is when we tend to just lock ourselves indoors as we pray for sunshine and longer days. However, they made me brave the cold & the hassle of getting 2 babies loaded up.  As hard as it was to get out sometimes, the conversation and fresh air was always good for my soul. I always left feeling refreshed and more joyful. Now that they are back to working full time, and I no longer work a couple cubicles down, I don’t see them as much, but still enjoy catching up every chance we get.
 

This next small group of people are the ones that I didn’t expect to transform my life the way they have.  Fortunately, they all live really close to me and are some of the most open, honest, real, & loving women I know.   Two of them happen to be a couple doors down and the other lives just a few minutes away. Having them in my life is wonderful. If the weather is bad and our kids are in need of a scenery change, we just head on over to each other’s houses.  We are met at the door with support, a hug and usually even coffee or wine!  We are there to help out with kids if someone has an emergency or wants an hour to go to the gym. We can even turn into a pretty remarkable zone defense to help monitor all the kids as they ride bikes on our cul de sac.  I didn’t realize how much I needed close mom friends until I had them. Now I can’t imagine raising kids without them.

 

Last but certainly not least is the person that has been in my village the longest; even when I didn’t want her to be.  My twin sister, Courtney, is the best mom friend out there.  Everyone that knows us knows how we can drive each other absolutely crazy.  Some might even wonder why we ended up living so close to each other, but I’m so thankful we do. Since having kids, we have been able to put aside our differences in a whole new way.  We’ve also learned how to voice our issues and move lovingly past them. I get together with Courtney and her son Lando at least a couple times a month.  Then we call and FaceTime lots in between each visit.  Courtney tells me when I’m overreacting, reassures me when I feel like I’m being a bad mom, acts as a sounding board when I’m stressed, and loves the girls like they are her own.  I definitely count her as one of my biggest blessings.

 

Without  realizing it, I had created a village of my own.  My village was similar to my mom’s in many ways. I had friends near and far. Friends I’d met at all different stages of life. Friends that feel more like sisters. Friends that are full of great advice. Friends that have a watchful eye out for my girls. While luck was on my side with the neighbors and coworkers I was blessed with, it took more than luck to create my village.  It took time, energy, and even vulnerability. As I mentioned at the start, it can be hard to make friends in this fast-paced world, but we all need a village. In my next article, I will share a few things that seem to have worked for me.  I hope you all have a great day in community with other, life is too short to do it solo!

Who are some special people in your village?
Please comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

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