But it's not the address or the asphalt that we love, it's the people. We all moved into our homes about the same time. Within a few months, we were seeing one another frequently. Days became months and now our children roam from house to house as the play and pretend and share snacks. And the women around me have become some of my dearest friends.
The saying "it takes a village" never felt more real than it does now. How would I have gotten through pregnancy without neighbors who let my children play when I felt awful? How would we have made it to the hospital so quickly when I was in labor with caleb if it weren't for my neighbors? How would I have made it to the ER within minutes when Patrick was sick if it weren't for my neighbors? How would I get Benjamin on time without waking a baby if it weren't for my neighbors? But it's not just the "big" things. My children love playing with their children. My children have learned to respect other adults words and rules. My children have found great comfort in the arms and presence of people we've only known for two years, who feel like extended family.
I have had quiet moments in chaotic days because our neighbors allow my children to be in their home. I have cooked dinner many nights with more than one helper who isn't mine. I french braid hair for basketball practice. I prepare lunches for more than four. I give hugs and kisses to sad girls, find bandaids for road burn and mediate very dramatic conflicts -- and my sweet neighbors do the very same things in their home! Just yesterday as I was leaving to run an errand I looked around and there were six boys playing Wii, two girls coloring and a baby trying to feed everyone snacks. This morning we gathered to celebrate a birthday with presents and cake -- the very thing we do for nearly each birthday.
This is, delightfully, what our days look like.
The boys explore the woods and ponds, they climb trees together and wrestle. The girls play dolls and dress up and makeup. Then they all come together to play house and race up and down the street. Best friendships are formed and early memories are etched in tiny minds as they live like kings and queens wandering territory they've claimed as their own. Childhood sounds pretty magical when it's lived like this!
And if you could only see the street in the summer time! It's glorious to watch 103rd Court Olympics, a very intense game of backyard baseball, ice cream and popsicles after dinner and trampoline jumping into the evening dusk. Screams and laughter fill the air. Disputes are solved and lessons are learned.
I don't pretend to think it's normal to have this, or that it's never been done. We have a little slice of heaven over here -- and I enjoy it more than words can describe!