It occurred to me today that several of our friends are having babies within a couple months of us. The first friends that came to mind just had their twins this past week. Another couple has the exact same due date we do. A co-worker is due a week after us. Another couple is due a week from now.
The thought struck me, as a pondered this baby boom in our community, that I have learned a deep and profound appreciation for having a sympathetic and supportive community around us as we have another child. It’s hard to articulate how valuable is the asset of community. Having it can make you feel like the most wealthy person in the world. Lacking it can make you feel as desperate and hopeless as a pauper.
Let me state the obvious: Having a baby is a really big deal. The transition of adding another member to your family disrupts your schedule, saps your strength and energy, introduces chaos, taxes your emotions, exhausts your patience, and so much more. In short, it has a big destabilizing effect on your life. Don’t get me wrong. I love babies. They are definitely a blessing, but a destabilizing blessing nonetheless.
Community, on the other hand, has a huge stabilizing effect. Community provides friendships and relationships that are tested over time, see you through thick and thin, and come to your aid when you need help. This stabilizing effect of community is something people desperately need in a time when life is destabilized by the arrival of a new little human.
I’m not really sure how people make it through the transition of childbirth without the support of community. All I know is that it’s worth doing whatever is necessary in order to get connected to such a community. Some may have to get over some powerful introversion tendencies. Some may have to put aside their habits of gossip and criticism in order to build long-lasting friendships. Some may have to suppress the desire to compete for the honor of best parent and learn to humbly accept wisdom from others. Whatever the case, I am certain that whatever we give up in order to gain community is more than compensated for by what we gain from being in community.
So, as we count down the weeks to our due date, we are also counting our blessings. First on our list of blessings is that we have a large, loving, and supportive community around us. This community is made up of other families who have children of various ages. They all understand what this transition is like. They all “get it.” They are not saying to us, “Gee, another kid, huh? You know what causes that, right?” Instead, they are cheering us on, saying, “Sweet! Another blessing in this community!”
Note: “Community” as it is used here is also inclusive of biological family relations.