24 May 2009

making my village

I had a really interesting conversation with a professor at work on Friday. He was saying how he'd decided to leave the college and move on, and how he'd developed this nomadic lifestyle of saving up like 50,000 dollars, taking a job somewhere interesting (he'd just come from Hawaii), living off his savings until he got settled in, build the savings back up while he worked, and move on (he was planning on heading to Spain next). He said that, at his age (mid 50's) he didn't expect to be unmarried, childless, and living place to place like he was, and for a while people sort of felt bad for him, and he felt bad for himself too. But now, he was the envy of all his friends! (And me!)

So we started talking about families and marriage and single parents and communities and he said something about single moms that kind of bugged me, something about how it wasn't natural for them to be alone. I explained to him about how I've done my best to create an extended family for my children by staying close with both sets of grandparents, and by having cousins and friends over as much as possible. I told him about my Thursday night ladies' night (if I haven't ever mentioned it, my girlfriends come over every Thursday for dinner, drinks and tv) and my cookouts and how my kids are close and comfortable with an extended "family" of people who care about them. And I told him I thought this was just as good as having a husband.

And you know what he said? He said, "Just as good? It's better." He went on to say how many married people are isolated in their marriage, how they don't spend time with friends and their relationship revolves around their children. He felt, and I can see why this would be true, that this model of the family: one dad, one mom, 2.5 kids, evolved as people moved out of villages and into suburbs, where there is no town square, no central spot for congregation, no connection with the community you live in. You know that expression "it takes a village to raise a child"? Some families have lost their village, if that makes sense.

And for me, I may have lost my husband, my partner, but I reconstructed my village. And villagers, since many of you read this, I love you.


Kimberli said...

That's awesome, Jaime. I have a husband, and the kids, and absolutely no village. I can totally see what I'm missing out on. Sounds like you're doing okay!!!

Looking For Freedom... said...

Ditto to what Kimberli said. I love my little family, but I have had a really hard time making friends in the last few years. We try to reach out... People seem so sequestered.

jt said...

i'm glad to be a member of the village! thanks for having us. we need you as much as you need us.