Craving Community by Robin Gorman Newman
I love being around people and feeling part of a community. That's one of the resounding reasons I launched Motherhood Later...Than Sooner. But, for me, it's not just about connecting with other moms, it's about quality time with people you enjoy, and ideally, those who truly mean something to you. If they happen to be moms, that's icing on the cake, but far from a requirement.
I have found that since becoming a mother, coupled with getting older, life for everyone I know is so full, with the operative word "busy" in constant use. In people's minds, there is little time for fostering relationships (especially new ones), and pleasure is squeezed in between chores and what easily starts to feel like a stagnant daily existance.
I crave more than that. I want to enjoy life and the people in my world. This is a priority. And, in my book, you're never too old to make new friends or reinforce longstanding friendships. It's worth it.
This past week/weekend was an unusual time in my home. For four days straight, we had a full house. Marc and I felt like keepers of a B and B we called Chez Newman, and though a bit hectic, it was fun. One very close friend who I worked with some 25 years ago and lives a distance away, came to stay with us for two nights, and it took me back to our professional days as single gals working in NYC. While it was a time of spontaneity and enjoying all that Manhattan had to offer, ironically it wasn't all joyous since we were living in the gray. And, that was a challenging place for us. A frequent topic of discussion was our desire to meet the men we would one day marry. We weren't in a rush to walk down the aisle that very moment, but in a perfect world, we would have had a crystal ball so we'd be assured it would happen. And, we'd know exactly when and how. Then, we might have been able to rest easy, and potentially enjoy our 20s all the more.
Fast forward, and we're now both married women with kids living in our respective suburbs. We got what we wanted. And, though we love our children and husbands, we yearn for the freedom that feels like another lifetime ago.
This takes me back to my college days. When I was an undergraduate student attending Hofstra University, starting my second year, I lived in a single dorm room. It was small but had the necessities, and while I appreciated the privacy, I also relished company. So, when I wasn't hibernating writing a paper or studying all night for an exam, my room was the "go-to" destination. I had an open door policy (at times, even if I was in my pajamas), and fellow student friends would wander in 'n out, and I was in my element.
My good friend Alli (Aunt Alli to Seth), who also stayed with us this past week (for one night), has shared how she and other empty nester friends have had conversations about communal living. They've discussed the possibility of one day buying a large house with ample space for all of them.
I can see the appeal of that or living in a gated or even retirement community, when the time comes. If you're lucky enough to have neighbors you enjoy, you have a built in circle of companionship. While I feel fortunate to live in our house, we are only friendly with one set of neighbors, the rest of whom keep to themselves. I see many at our community pool in the summer, but conversations start 'n end there.
I don't want to think about old age at present. I have no desire to wish the years away. But, I do know that I appreciate the company of people I can have heartfelt discussions with. Other women who get raging hormones. Other women who decided to be a stay at home mom and grapple with the challenges that come with that. Other women who yearn for topics of discussion beyond parenthood. Other women who want to get to know you despite having an existing social circle. Other women engaged in stimulating pursuits, who you can learn from. And, I'm certainly open to getting to know men as well (of course, not romantically).
So....to all who know and love us....Chez Newman is open for business. Don't be a stranger. And, if you are a stranger, don't be afraid to say hello.