I find the idea of playing an active role in my community very exciting. (Many times that is as far as I get.) Going through Covid as a family, we have tried to remain as engaged as possible with others. The challenge of the lockdowns has certainly created an extra layer of resistance within a culture that already has a steady stream of barriers encouraging disengagement. For the most part, what you are holding in your hand right now, technology and media, have a tendency to cause us to unplug from one another. It takes energy, inspiration, and all sorts of self-discipline to put the phone down and get out into the fresh air for a walk to greet some strangers. --Real human interactions.
I think we are all feeling the 'covoid'. I want to touch on some of the thoughts and solutions I have when it comes to building community within the nuances of the current parameters. Dwelling on these things usually brings me to a much brighter spot, then comes the inspiration that leads to action.
In my last article, I wrote about the pros and cons of my experience with having children. I received some constructive criticism from close friends and family within this infant-stage community of the Giving Experiment . All the people I heard back from were people that have either chosen not to have children or have wanted to but unfortunately have not been able to. No discussion arose from readers that agreed with my stance and experience. I found this beautiful. When you fully agree with someone, there is little to talk about.
The discussions sparked a lot of great thoughts. I want to clarify that all my writings, both past, and future, are based on my own personal experiences and are not one size fits all views. I am humbled by the opportunity to write and have others be interested enough in our family story to take the time to read the posts. These writings are intended to reflect as much on our struggles as our victories. We don't have things figured out, this is all an experiment. Being that the opposing views to my article created as much debate as they did, I was encouraged by the place we all have as individuals within a healthy community.
As parents that have regularly lived in distant places from our own parents, we have often needed to scout out pseudo-grandparents for our children. Building bridges between generations takes work and a lot of effort. Sometimes the relationships aren't a good fit and we have to move on. However, the essence of building community lays in building real relationships rather than focusing on networking for one's own personal gain. You need anything? What can you give in exchange?
To the singles that wanted children and were not able to, families like ours have so much to offer you. Our children can always use positive adult influences and interactions. We have adopted more Aunties and Uncles than I can count and appreciate every moment our children get with them.
To parents, you have children and are not getting enough breaks, do not be hesitant to ask for help! There are countless elders in your community that had children in hopes of one day having grandkids and they have not come. Adopt a grandparent for your kids. And hey, while you have a babysitter, try some volunteer work together as a date!
To our seniors, be confident! You hold so much knowledge and experience! Believe me when I say that the things inside your brain are more valuable than what screens have to offer our kids! Adopt a grandchild.
All these relationships start with small tokens of kindness. A little baking drop-off, a good old fashioned letter, maybe it's asking a senior or a single friend if they would care to receive your child's drawings/coloring sheets rather than recycling them. A weekly or monthly facetime chat, shoveling your neighbor's walkway, mowing their lawn. Small gestures of love sometimes take the bold step of putting yourself out there. Just remember you have worth. The past decisions you have made and the experiences they have led you through have value and need to be shared with others.
You: unique, flawed, and wonderful are needed.
When I was 17 I had a close friend whose father was a professor of theology at a bible college. I would often go to my friend's house more to visit with his dad than with my friend. We would smoke a pipe filled with aromatic Virginia tobacco and discuss my future and life in general. To this day I cherish those memories and the influence he had, as an 'uncle' in my life. This picture is of a poster that was in their family bathroom, read it and be inspired.