In light of the recent articles on community popping up here and there, I’ve been thinking a lot about where we belong, as individuals and as a family.
Growing up in the country sharing property with a young neighbor my sister, brother and I always had a friend to play with, but only her. We didn’t grow up in a neighborhood, with classmates living in other homes on the street, or other neighborhood kids to play with. We grew up knowing we ‘belonged’ there in scruffy clothes, climbing trees and log-rolling down the grass-covered hills without neighbors who could see us from their windows except when we climbed up the hill and played in the trees.
I also grew up very shy. It took me a very long time to overcome my shyness, and mostly as a result of being thrown into situations where extraverts befriended me. Hanging around them I met more people and slowly became more comfortable with myself as a person. Making friends and having friends gave me a sense of belonging, like who I was mattered somehow.
As adults this feeling of belonging differs in intensity depending on the person, the place…but as an adult watching my own children making friends, or finding their way to do so, it deeply reminds me of the (almost) pain I sometimes felt when faced with making friends and I hope and pray they find a sense of belonging like I did.
As an adult I sometimes wonder where I belong now and how I can define the sense of belonging. Is it just a feeling based on where and how I find myself fitting into a group, feeling comfortable around others doing the same as me – being a mom as part of a mom’s group, for example? A sense of community.
…And I wonder how I can help my child always remember they will always find a place to belong here at home.