Raising little kids is much too hard to do alone. Much. In order to survive all of the tantrums and growing pains I need my husband, my sisters, my mother, and more and more, my friends.
My husband and I are blessed to be part of a wonderful group of Catholic families. We’ve known these couples for a long time, from before we were married and parents. It’s sort of a miracle how we’ve stayed together, but we have, and now we are all stuck right in the middle of these crazy years were the little people out number us and they are still 100% unhelpful. We are all living essentially the same life. And it is such a gift to have friends that just get it, get what we are going through, complaining about, struggling with. They just get it.
Last weekend 8 of the families were able to spend a couple of days at a huge cabin on a peaceful little lake. In total there were 20 kids, 2 on the way, and 17 adults. One of us is a priest. We had a grand time. Several moments were crazy as we wrangled kids and attempted to get them to eat/sleep/play. But, above all else, it was gift to just be with those families and soak in the beauty of this little community. Plus, we had a lot of fun after the kids were in bed each night!
Since the weekend I’ve been thinking about this community of Catholic Families we belong to. The blessings we have received through this group are intense. And God continues to bless us through this community.
I hope that you have a community like this in your life, and if you don’t, start one. Seriously. Meet people after mass, invite them over with their family, join the mom’s group and exchange numbers, just get the ball rolling. It’s worth it and I have always found that people are as eager to form a community as I am, we are all just a little scared to make the first move.
Because we all benefit from being in a community like this:
1. The Moms Benefit
Our community of Catholic families started out as separate Men’s and Women’s groups. Well, actually, the men had a group and all of us girlfriends/wives got together and formed our own group, so as not to be left out.
We have been meeting once or twice a month for nearly 6 years, but even when not at our official “women’s group meetings” we are constantly (over) sharing and consoling and loving each other. Over these 6 years many of us have gotten married and we all have had children. Some have lost pregnancies and grandparents and we all have had ups and downs in our marriages. The group has allowed us to share those experiences, morn together, celebrate together and just be together.
Sharing and growing with these women is so easy because we already agree on all of the fundamental things. We agree that marriage is forever, children are a blessing and God should be the center of our lives. We don’t have to waste time disagreeing about the big things and instead can discuss and encourage each other in the practical details of living as a mother and wife.
We are open with each other, we trust each other, we love each other’s husbands and kids and respect the advice we give each other.
2. The Dads Benefit
As I said, my husband is part of a men’s group in this community, like I’m part of a women’s group. I am so grateful for this group of women, but I am just as grateful for this group of men.
I’m grateful because this group of men are REAL men and with them my husband is challenged and supported in being a real man himself.
Just like femininity, the concept of masculinity has been blurred. But, with this group of guys the truth is clear:
Real men pray. Real men love being fathers. Real men are faithful, in every way, to their wives. Real men are engaged in NFP and help manage the family’s fertility. Real men love adventures and beer and hunting and sports. Real men would do absolutely anything to protect their family.
Each of the men we women married were amazing men before they became part of this community, most especially my husband. But, the beauty of the community is that it’s easier to be all of these things a Real Man is when you have brothers supporting you and holding you accountable.
It’s really a beautiful thing.
3. The Kids Benefit
Most of the couples in this community have been married for less than 10 years, some much less than that. So our kids are all still quite young and every year there are more and more of them. We all are open to family. We all use NFP and that means our offspring gets to grow up together as part of a huge herd kids.
Of course the kids love this. But here’s why I love it:
I love that my little Augustine is growing up with kids that don’t think it’s weird his name is Augustine. I love that the kids can play Mass and talk about God and Mary and be completely on the same page. I love that when we go to our parish Mass our kids can already look across the aisle and see a friend. And, I love that through this community my children have so many more people that love them, will protect them and will model the faith for them.
I am so grateful for this group of young families. Like I said, if you don’t have anything like this, make it happen. Put yourself out there and meet people. Invite them over to your home, allow your kids to meet, chat as moms and dads and build the foundations for a vibrant, holy, faith community.
Because everyone needs to be part of a community.
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