What Does Community Mean to You

Screenshot 2015-03-05 12.40.26We live in a great neighborhood, I can't complain. We have a nice big backyard, a quiet street, we are lucky that we have such a nice little spot to call home. What really makes it special though, is our neighbors. We are on the corner, and our backyard runs into their backyard, and they have three kids close in age to our older ones, and after school and on weekends we can both let our kids run out the door and meet at some point in the middle to play until we call them in for dinner, occasionally checking through a window or the sliding glass door to make sure they are all okay and are being nice to one another, which they almost always are. If I am running late for the bus after school, I can call this neighbor and if she is home she will happily take my kids for a few minutes until I get home, and the same goes for her. We pass clothing and snow boots and gear back and forth as the kids outgrow it. We do sleepovers and playdates and I know that I look after her kids the way I look after my own, and the same goes for her. Even though we are now slightly outgrowing this house with four kids, I never want to move, because of the little community we have here. We are also members at a local golf club, McGregor Links, which isn't far from where we live. There is a bigger community of moms and parents there, with the same vibe. We all look out for each other's kids, and there are a LOT of kids there, especially at the pool. My favorite part of McGregor is that it's a guaranteed built in play date, if there aren't any other kids swimming (which is rare) the lifeguards have been known to jump in and play with the kids. Last summer with me being hugely massively pregnant, more than once a mom stepped in to help me corral Jack away from the edge of the pool. Snacks and coloring books and sunscreen and little activities are freely shared, the moms all just sort of stick together and help each other out, even if you don't really know each other, and honestly, it is pretty amazing.

I have to admit to all of you, especially when I was a new parent, I felt self conscious about my parenting skills, about what other moms thought of me. I felt like if I stumbled a little it was a reflection on me, that they were judging me, that their offer of help was a way of saying I was in over my head, that I couldn't handle things. Being a new mom and living in a new town where I didn't know a single soul, I was guarded, and I felt like I missed out on a lot of opportunities by being so defensive.

The thing is, moms nowadays are made to feel like we can (and should) be doing all of this on our own, when that wasn't always the case. We used to all have extended family and close neighbors who would all help out, it used to be more of a tribe. We didn't have all this "mom guilt" about working outside the home or formula feeding or looking at our iPhones too much. We didn't judge each other on which choices were best for our family's needs, we didn't judge each other on parenting styles.

Because of that, finding a new mom tribe can be intimidating. You don't know what they might be like, will you fit in, will your parenting style vibe with their parenting style? And let's face it, sometimes approaching another mom at preschool pickup can feel more like a first date experience that you want it to.

So, that being said, I want to know what community means to you guys. What would you like to have more of in our local community as far as mom meet ups and connecting with other parents? I'm toying with the idea of doing a monthly Mamatoga Meet Up, as a way to put people in touch with each other, to build more of a community, to bring the community we have here into a public space where people could meet each other, chat, share, learn, whatever. Thoughts I am toying with include incorporating a book club, a real life in person book club, a cooking club, having monthly speakers, maybe a day option and a nighttime option for those who can't find a babysitter, also having YOU guys tell me what you are looking for. Do you want to find babysitters? Do you want to just maybe meet some local moms with babies the same age? Do you want to explore finding support groups? Let me know your input and thoughts, I want to know what a real community of moms here in our area would look like for YOU. xoxo