Posts tagged ‘Community’

May 23, 2011

A New York State of Mind, Indeed

A year ago, I was one of only two pregnant people I knew—and the other lived 900 miles away.  About this time last year, through friends of friends, we met another pregnant couple, and before we knew it we were moving to Brooklyn, the baby capital of New York City, where we met even more people who, it turns out, were either expecting or would be in the next few months.

We spent yesterday afternoon with a number of these couples and their little ones, and I was struck by how incredibly lucky we are to have this community of young families.  Typically New York City is billed as a habitat for singles, for professionals, for people looking to work hard and play hard.  Family life is not a trait often portrayed in cultural perspectives on the city.

But there are tons of different kinds of people in New York, all with different priorities and different goals.  Thankfully, there are more than a few who share ours.

To say that we have been blessed with a good community in this new home of ours would be an understatement.  We have been positively flooded with God’s grace as we meet more and more young families and more and more young couples who are trying to start families.

We’ve begun a fairly regular gathering with a bunch of them, and I am beyond grateful for a room where we can talk freely about birthing options, teething, parenting guilt and parenting triumphs, where we can share our experiences and learn from others’, where we can make plans and watch our children learn to play and share with each other.  That there’s always good food and drink to sample only adds to the pleasure of these times together.

Although I still struggle every day to trust God completely, this community we have is proof that trust in Him does bear great fruit.  I couldn’t see it a year ago, but my loneliness was about to be replaced with a gaggle of friends, the anxiety in my mind with peace in my heart, and my fears with laughter.

God truly does work in mysterious ways, and I have a sense that later in life, when circumstances are not as joyful as they are now, I will have this time to look back on as real, tangible evidence of God’s love.  Married life, parenting, starting a small business—none of these things is easy.  But I have seen how they become easier with trust, with God’s grace, and most importantly, with love.

I think, for the first time, I’d agree that New York really is the greatest city in the world.

August 15, 2010

Smile . . . you’re in Brooklyn!

Ever since I’ve been noticeably pregnant—and probably subconsciously a while before that—I’ve found myself making a special effort to smile at other pregnant ladies and ladies with small children when I see them.  For some reason I have a strong sense of pregnancy team spirit; I feel like we’re all in this together and there’s something special and beautiful about bringing children into the world at the same time.  What an extraordinary opportunity to have and what an amazing connection we share, even if our interaction is simply a passing moment on the street, right?

The women in Manhattan don’t seem to take the same view.

I admit I harden my face when I walk through Manhattan.  Let’s be honest—I push my way through the subway system, too.  Without a doubt, I fall into the category of people with a singular drive to get to where they need to be, and not to let anyone else get in their way.

I suppose some of this could be chalked up to the year and a half I commuted to and from New Jersey, and about ninety-five percent of the time ran from the subway to Penn Station in order to not miss my train home.  My behavior might also be somewhat justified by the fact that I work in Rockefeller Center, where The Today Show is filmed live outside in the summer and an ice skating rink framed by a ginormous Christmas tree reign in the winter.

Truthfully, though, this is a manifestation of what can be my tremendous impatience.  I guess it’s also a sign of my not feeling a sense of unity with the people around me.  In midtown, unfortunately, my instinct is to subscribe to the belief that it’s every person for him or herself.

But when you’re pregnant, everything changes—even in midtown.  Strangers give up seats on the subway.  People let you go first in lines for public restrooms.  Other women unabashedly guess the gender of your child based on the shape of your belly, and you get the warmest smiles you’ve ever seen from people you’ll never meet again.

For some reason, this is not the case among pregnant women.  Whenever I try to smile at a fellow pregnant lady in Manhattan, I am given the same hard glare people get for being with screaming children on a bus or holding the doors open on the subway.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m considered a threat to future preschool admissions.  Should tell people that I intend to be back in New Jersey when my children are in school?  Without that barrier, might we find common ground?

In Brooklyn, on the other hand, I have not only seen other women return my smiles, but I have seen them initiate smiles.  I even had a woman say hi to me today.  That’s right—real, honest-to-goodness verbal communication.  What a relief!  I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the brazen sense of camaraderie I’ve experienced in just two weeks.  I very much hope this is a harbinger of what’s to come over the next year and beyond.

When people ask me why we moved to Brooklyn, my response is generally something like, “That’s where the babies are.”  Really, this is where the moms are.

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