The fundamental one is my family that includes several circles: the nuclear family I was born into, my extended family, my in-laws, and the nuclear family Matt and I created. They interact and overlap and are connected through shared experiences and unconditional love. My life naturally prioritizes my nuclear family as Matt are sharing the labor of love that is parenting. It helps me to think of part of that work as building community. I want my kids to know they’re part of a community that supports and loves them and is preparing them for, one day, going out into the world to be part of their own network of communities that make up grown-up life.
Our church is a newer community for us. Finding community in a local congregation has always proven a bit complicated. We’ve been involved in a number of churches over the years in Durham, since leaving a congregation in Charlotte that we were deeply involved in. Over the last year and a half, we’ve been part of a church where we’ve met some really wonderful folks, who’ve reached out to love and teach our kids in kind, thoughtful way. I’m thankful for the promise of this community.
Friends represent other circles of community. Matt and I are lucky to have so many in common, since our circle of friends in college. We also made some great friends right after college, in those days when we were working and then I was in law school, before any of us had kids. Many of those friends live far away now, but there’s a group of them we vacation with almost every summer--along with our many children--and we always have the best time.
Closer to home, one of the most meaningful communities we have right now is our kids’ school. Over the last couple years, as Lauren started school, I’ve had more time to be part of this community. It’s pretty awesome to walk into a building and truly feel that I’m somewhere, where my kids are loved and appreciated. And it’s not just my kids, of course. My work as a volunteer has helped me understand more deeply how everyone in the building works to make sure every kid--regardless of ability, race/ethnicity, or language--thrives. That is a constant work in progress, but I’m thankful and honored to be part of this effort.
My closest community is my neighborhood. Since moving here two and half years ago, we’ve made some great friends, who happen to live across and just down the street. It’s wonderful to feel like we’re raising kids together, enjoying friendships and backyard football along the way.
I think I’ve been so mindful of and grateful for my communities, because the news these days has me thinking a lot about shared values. At times, it’s hard to believe that there’s more that unites than divides us. But that has been the story of my life: I would be nothing apart from my connections, grounded in loving kindness, to so many people, past and present. And the only way I know how to live my life is by seeking and building community, even when it’s hard and scary.