Growing up, I didn't have a lot of our extended family of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins living nearby. Visiting family was always an overnight traveling adventure. I never had to ask how much longer until we got to Grandma and Grandpa's house in College Station because I was so familiar with the landmarks, that I could figure it out on my own. Waco was always halfway and we never failed to stop at the McDonald's for a restroom break...and if I was lucky, for french fries.
Although I wish that I had been able to have grown up a bit closer to our family, I never felt like that sense of community was missing from my life. My parents moved to into my childhood home before I was born and they reside there still. Through church involvement, Boy and Girl Scouts and PTA, my parents (especially my mother) was able to create and form lasting and deep friendships with many people in our area. So although I didn't have my Aunt Jody nearby, I had two of my mother's closest friends Kathy P. and Kathy G. who always loved me and watched out for me just like their own children. I definitely had a large "village" community that cared about me, listened to me, watched out for me and held me accountable for my actions when necessary.
Last night at dinner, Craig and I were discussing the small town several miles north of us that his friend Ron coaches in and I asked Craig (he having grown up in smaller towns throughout Texas) if he would ever be interested in moving to a town like that and being the head Varsity basketball coach. He didn't have to think about it for long before answering that he really enjoys the suburban area that we live in because everything that we need (both material and social) is close to us. Our house isn't huge and it's not in "posh" area of FM, but it is big enough for us with room to grow and we have the most delightful park down the street a few blocks. Our house is firmly in the middle of the neighborhood, but yet we can easily get to the major thoroughfaires that are close by. Within a ten mile radius we have copious amounts of food, shopping and entertainment choices and our city has done a fantastic job of integrating parks and public recreation areas into each of the smaller subdivisions.
But more importantly than the amenities that our community offfers, as I sat at my the baby shower thrown for me yesterday by my friends Heather, Amy, Kate and Beri, I looked around at all the women gathered in the living room and realized that these women were going to be the "village" that helps to raise Natalie. They are the ones that I will go to when I have a question about child rearing and they will be the ones that she will seek advice from when she is a teenager, just like I did with my mother's friends. And all of the women are so different and unique...I know Natalie will be exposed to a variety of temperments and personalities, but yet will feel the same adoration and love from all of them. Craig and I are very blessed to have these women in our lives and I don't think we could have chosen a better place to settle down nor a stronger group of female role models for our daughter.