I know we’re ‘supposed’ to eat our oranges, but quite honestly we’ve never been a big orange family. And as we get our fruit and vege delivered each week, we often end up with a mountain of oranges rotting in the back corner of the pantry. Don’t worry, this is not a post about what to do with a mountain of oranges. What it is about though, is where we find our community – our natural fit. So what do oranges and community have to do with each other?
Well actually, nothing. It’s actually more about eggs..
The other day I decided to seize a free moment and make our 999th orange cake (well it feels like that many!). However, half way through I realised (in a slightly less than graceful tizz) that I didn’t have any eggs! I guess I could have piled the kids into the car so I could race up to the supermarket. But seriously, who really wants to do that after a long day at school. I couldn’t think of anything worse! In moment of brilliance I decided to send our son up the street to borrow a couple from one of the neighbours.
Now not too long ago, this would definitely not have happened. I’ve always been rather independent, choosing the harder option of doing it alone. Sometimes because I wanted to prove to myself that I could and other times because I didn’t want to bother anyone. But in more recent years I’ve learned that it’s better to connect with the people in our communities, than to stay solo and slug it out alone.
Our street, has become one of these communities. We live in a dead end street with some of the loveliest people I’ve met in a long time. We have street parties, weekends away and afternoon bike rides out on the street. We don’t feel compelled to live in each other’s shoes but with nearly 30 kids roaming the street, we are spoilt for choice if we do want to mingle.
Last year, one neighbour and I swapped children for two half days each week so we could both work part-time. I also shared kinder and school pickup with another neighbour. Hand-me-down clothes are passed from house to house. We walk together when our free time collides. And we recently added babysitting to the shared list of benefits. Yes I realise we are quite spoiled but it didn’t happen overnight for me. I had to work at it and it has obviously been worth it on many different levels.
It’s a different sense of accomplishment when life is shared. And without wanting to sound too mushy…more fulfilling.
You may already be nodding away saying, “preach it sister”, but I suspect there are many more who like I did, find it hard to reach out and connect with those around you. Yes it sounds like I’m jumping on my soap box, but seriously the advantages far outweigh any initial discomfort you may feel. If you’re still unconvinced, try reading Modern Parent’s fabulous blog about the joys of community in Why we should let the village raise the child. She talks about how it not only benefits us, but our kids!
So next time you feel the need to ‘do it alone’ ask yourself this question… ‘How can I share this experience?’. Anyone for orange cake?
Do you have a community? In what ways are you sharing your lives? Have you noticed how this affects your children? Does this make you a better parent?