Monday, July 28, 2014

Building community

Just checking in while Frankie naps and I'm putting off getting work done...

One of the hardest things about moving back to Chicago was leaving the little community Frank and I had formed in Virginia. We had/have such good friends there. One thing that made it a little easier was that several of our friends also moved away from the area around the same time we did. But when we first moved back here, despite having my family in the area, we felt a real lack of community in friends at a similar life stage as us.

In my typical overly friendly way (some of you guys might remember how I used to make friends by going up to talk to strangers after Mass... scratch that, I still make friends that way!), I set about trying to correct that lack when we moved here. It took time—more time than I liked. Frank heard me complain incessantly, when we found out I was pregnant, that we didn't know a single other young married couple expecting a baby in Chicago (and we didn't!). I was worried we would have to do this whole young-parenting gig all by ourselves.

But here we are, a year later, and we have been beyond fortunate to find a lot of other young married couples and new or expecting parents in Chicago. Most are close to us in age, and some of them are even younger than us! It's such a great feeling to get together for our little (silly named) "lactation parties" or cook-outs or movie nights or husbands' softball games. Having a community of young couples who share core values and fun interests has been a total godsend for us, and it just keeps getting better as more and more of our friends get married and have kids. It is so good to feel not alone in this crazy adventure—to have friends who are also dealing with marriage and pregnancy and being first-time parents while trying to establish their careers, pay off student loans, stick to budgets, make difficult decisions about finances and health care and childcare and going back to work, and generally being adults—really, friends who see marriage as a cornerstone rather than a capstone. (And for the record, I am a big believer in marriage as a cornerstone!)

I've also come to realize that community doesn't have to be confined to geography. Last week, dear friends of ours who live in San Diego asked us to be godparents to their beautiful little baby. This is such an honor, especially since the role of godparents or "padrinos" is a huge deal in Cuban culture! Even though we won't be able to be present at the baptism, we cherish this special bond with these friends who feel more like family, and I'm grateful that our community of mutual support extends across the country. The blogging community also makes me feel that way, which is why I love it.

There isn't really a deeper point to this post. I'm just really glad we've reached this point where we have a lot of other friends at our same stage in life. That's all. :)

And of course, some gratuitous baby photos... it wouldn't be a post without them, right?


  1. Girl, I wish you lived in Pittsburgh! I have had the worst time meeting young Catholic friends. I'd love someone to approach me after Mass...ha!

  2. I'm really glad you wrote this post. It's still taking me a long time to feel like I have a core community here in DC, rather than a whole bunch of scattered friends across the city-which sounds ridiculous because it is not hard to meet people, or even Catholic young adults, at all (we are super blessed in that regard!). What makes it hard is that it's difficult when not everyone lives/works in the same part of the city, particularly if it's not downtown. And lots of people tend to not go to events consistently (or even stick with the same parish), so I end up always meeting a lot of new people, but not finding opportunities to deepen existing acquaintances. We are so lucky to have more activities/events than we could ever wish for going on all the time, but as an introvert, so often the last thing I want after sitting in traffic for an hour (or more!) is to run back to the Metro to get to rush to a happy hour downtown-even if I know I would really enjoy it! It's not that we introverts don't know how to make friends, but the energy it takes can be a crushing weight at times. There are lot of running groups around too, but I usually find running 2 miles with people more exhausting than running 10 miles without :)

    In other news, it's tremendous how much Frankie looks like you!

  3. That's awesome!! The first comment made me laugh because we had such a great community in Pittsburgh (she needs to go to the Oratory!) and it's been really hard for us to find young families here in Seattle. Two years in, I've finally made some stay-at-home mom friends that are under 30, but it was a looooong time coming.

  4. This really cheered me. There is a good chance that I will be moving from VA to NJ after my marriage, and I am so so sad to loose the wonderful community I have here. It's been a constant "conversation" (well, mainly me complaining) between my fiance and I - me worrying that we will basically be stuck in a little bubble of our own, with no Catholic couples to be compatriots with us through the first few years. It is nice to know that other couples worry about it too, and that it can change with patience. Also, I absolutely loved the article you linked to. It was just one of those things that I really really needed to read today.

    1. I'm so glad you liked the article! Where in Jersey are you moving? My husband is from there, and there are definitely some good people out there! I definitely feel you about the moving blues though. I left Virginia well over a year ago, and I still miss it every day!

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