The excitement of Christmas morning has passed. The Son of Never Stops Eating is building his newest heart’s desire Lego set and the Teenager is in her room on her technology. I’m sitting at the kitchen table eating onion dip and Fritos, going through some recent nature pictures, deciding what books to buy with my Barnes and Noble gift cards, and pondering what 2017 will bring my way.
In many ways, 2016 was not my year, which seems to be a common thought. I will admit that although I’m glad to see 2016 over — don’t let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya, 2016 — I have some trepidations about what 2017 will bring. I think I’m also not alone in that thinking. I know that 2017 will be interesting: a new Presidential administration — not going there; the Teenager starting her senior year of high school; the Son of Never Stops Eating transitioning into high school; working on our house.
However, when I think about the good things 2016 brought—the year wasn’t all bad—a common theme emerges: community. I’m fortunate to be part of some wonderful groups of people, some that I’ve been part of for awhile and some that are new. One truth of life: you have to have your people.
Earlier this year, a Facebook acquaintance put out a call: she was starting a “breakfast club.” The idea was simple: people could meet on Saturday mornings at local restaurants for a leisurely breakfast. Sure, I thought. Why not? I like breakfast. Even though I consider myself an introvert, I do like to meet new people. The Son of Never Stops Eating, a chocolate chip pancake connoisseur, and I ventured out to the first meeting, not knowing what to expect. Six months later, we’ve both met new friends, gotten to know some older friends better, and found some great local places to eat breakfast.
I have my community of fellow nature nerds — many of whom I have only met online, but with whom I share an interest in and love of the natural world. When I see something extraordinarily cool out at the nature preserve, I know immediately who I am going to share it with. Need an ID on an unfamiliar bird? I know who to ask. Found a cool mushroom after a rain shower? I know who else will think it’s fascinating. One of these days — probably after my band mom tour of duty is over — I will hopefully get to meet more of my fellow nature lovers in real life at a bioblitz or a birding outing.
I have my community of other special needs moms, who get why I will have angst over the Son of Never Stops Eating’s transition to high school and why I am worried about what he will do after high school is over. We have elderly parents, challenges to meet with our special needs kids, other kids learning how to drive and go off to college, and we get each other. We don’t have to explain things to each other, we just know. I have my crazy girls-night-out friends, many of whom I met through church, who either have the same weird sense of humor I do or who are willing to put up with it.
Some communities are very long term, and others are more ephemeral, but share a goal regardless — working in the marching band concession stand with other band parents is community. Even if it disbands when the big game ends, we share the challenges of supplying endless amounts of churros during halftime and keeping the nachos coming for the fans. I joke about the band mom concession stand, but to be honest, I enjoy it. Seeing what the Teenager gains from being in her band community makes the concession stand time well spent.
The Mom of No gave up on resolutions — I rarely keep any of them and then I feel slightly guilty about it and it gives me angst, which I definitely don’t need. But if you are looking for a 2017 goal, I have a suggestion: If you don’t have a community, find one. If you have one, strengthen it. Find connections — not just on Facebook, but in real life. Sign up for an adopt-a-spot. Join a civic board. Volunteer for the band concession stand and make some nachos. Start a book club. Take up birding. Meet friends for dinner once a month or coffee every other Saturday morning. Go to the local outdoor concerts in the park. It will be worth it.
May you have safe and enjoyable New Year’s celebrations. Happy 2017 from the Family of No.
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