Finding Community.

Since Alice was born, we have lived in three different communities, each one distinctly different from the rest. She was born in New York City, and we lived in Riverdale, a heavily Jewish but still diverse section of the Bronx, along the Hudson River. When I first moved to Riverdale, I was dating my future husband and we had no children. My sister lived in the neighborhood and she was pretty much my only friend, since Riverdale is a family ‘hood thanks to the good schools and affordable housing prices. When Alice was six months old,  I finally ventured out to a library story time and it was there that I made my first “mom friend.” Alana was a great mom friend to have because she was a go-getter that made things happen. Through her, I joined a playgroup that she started in her playroom (It’s where I met Justine of Full Belly Sisters and Caitlin of The Joy of Caitlin!) and suddenly, I had a whole group of moms with kids the same age as Alice, a whole group of women accompanying each other on this journey of early motherhood. Besides these awesome women, I also had great neighbors (Hi, Wittes, Lapins and Rocco!) As a first-time mom who suddenly found herself spending long stretches of time with no other adult in site, this group of mothers and neighbors was a lifesaver.

The Riverdale Gang

When I was seven months pregnant with Stella, and Alice was a few months shy of her second birthday, we up and moved to Greenfield, Mass. This was a big change for me. Greenfield is a small city but it is nothing like the Bronx. Thought Henry had friends there, none of them had kids. It was by chance that I fell in with a group of parents, thanks to a chance run-in with Henry’s college acquaintance when we were out for Sunday brunch. Again, I allowed myself to be swept up into a group of amazing parents who welcomed me with open arms and library time schedules. It was my first time living in a place with no family nearby and being taken in by these amazing folks was incredible, especially when Stella was born. Though I barely knew these families, they were delivering food and company to us for weeks after Stella’s birth. It was spiritually uplifting and to this day, the memory makes me well up in appreciation.

Happy Valley Friends

Alas, we found ourselves back in the Bronx a year after we left. My friends were still around and I made some new ones, before we up and left again for Connecticut. Here, I have found my community  at the preschool, aptly named Community Nursery School. Again, my sister lives here and she was my only friend in the beginning. Living in this semi-rural area means that it can be easy to feel isolated. I look forward to preschool drop-off, where I can count on having at least one good conversation and maybe a cup of coffee with the other moms before we rush off to get errands done before pick-up. Moving here was another big change for us, and I think making friends as adults is hard–having kids makes it much easier but there’s no guarantee of a connection.
These three parenting communities were different in personality and style but they have the most important thing in common–we could count on each other for help, to look out for each other’s kids and to support each other in this season of early parenting. It may be a cliche but it still holds true:

It takes a village. 

In Marie-Helene Bertino’s novel, 2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas, the protagonist, 9-year-old Madeleine is shored up by the people in her life after the death of her mother and her father’s subsequent depression. This small community of people proves to be her saving grace.

This post was inspired by 2 A.M. At The Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino, a novel about hope, love, and music in the snow-covered streets of Philadelphia. Join From Left to Write on August 28 as we discuss 2 A.M. At The Cat’s Pajamas. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Marie-Helen Bertino is on Twitter and Facebook. Give her a shout-out!

10 thoughts on “Finding Community.

  1. Tamara Camera says:

    I've only ever been a parent here in the Pioneer Valley, but I can't imagine what it would have been like to raise kids where I lived in New Jersey and San Francisco.
    Different, I'm sure! And probably wonderful in its own ways.
    I sure do love Noho, though.

  2. Nancy Cavillones says:

    The more things change, the more they stay the same. No matter how "advanced" we get, humans always seem to gravitate towards "the village." Thanks for stopping by! Headed over to read your post now!

  3. Char says:

    As a shy and not very outgoing person I know how hard it is to find your community. How nice that you were able to find it in each new place your life took you.

  4. janaki says:

    When I was growing up, we moved around a lot, and I got worse and worse, with each move, at making the effort to get connected. But, with our final move, I connected with one friend, whose mother had raised her four kids as a military wife (until her divorce). She used to say that the key to getting connected to a new community was to join the local church – instant community!! And, in my adult life, that has proven true. My faith community, now, is the source for most of my closest connections.

  5. Nancy Cavillones says:

    I've been really fortunate to meet people that are willing to put themselves out there to welcome me; I'm a little shy at first and find it hard to find an entry into a group!

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