When we moved to Baltimore in 2007, I made found a friend at a playground whose little girl was my Isabel's age. We hit it off and had a play date, and another, and another. We began to have a standing play date every Tuesday. This continued until she and her family moved out of state this past July, 2013. So for six years, every week, at least once a week and frequently more, we would take turns coming to each others' houses. The person who was hosting the play date, made dinner. We saw each other through two more babies each, health issues, family problems, and our own disagreements. Our husbands became friends. Our children were all within a year of each other and were friends. Our friendship (and those dinners!) was one of the things I looked forward to the most every week and the thing that helped me survive when my husband was in training and I was in all essense a single mother to three young children.
In the last year we have developed relationships with other families where we share meals and play dates together. In fact, before the holidays, I had had a particularly stressful time at work. This, together with planning for Christmas, kids' winter break, Maddie's birthday party, and a New Year's Eve party, made it so my head could barely turn from side to side (I told you - I really need that monthly massage; It's for my neck tension!). We had a party one evening to attend which initially I was too stressed to go to. It didn't take long once there, to enjoy the food, music, drinks, watch the kids run around enjoying themselves and really laugh, that the tension melted away.
It frequently seems that the easiest thing to do would be to live just across the yard from all these people I love, cook together, laugh together, and raise our kids playing together. We tend to hang out with people who share our beliefs so the philosophies would be similar.
The story that touched me and reminded me of all of this (from NPR...) about a study of a modern (currently exists and functions) nomadic Tanzanian tribe. The parts of the tribe that travels and communicates with the western world values things we value - possession, focusing on themselves. The other part, the more isolated one that lives as hunters and gatherers, values sharing and community.
"People tend to hate to lose stuff they already own. This trait, known
as the endowment effect, is likely handed down to us by evolution,
since it is visible cross-culturally as well as in non-human primates.
However, new research suggests certain cultures place a brake on this
evolutionary trait, whereas capitalistic societies put it on steroids."
Shankar Vedantam, the NPR science desk correspondent (aka my hero, person with whom I would most like to have dinner) whose stories focus on human behavior/social science, concludes that giving up material possessions is easier in a small interdepedent society, where people have to work together to live (survive, succeed, etc.) This could be why the holidays are all about celebrating generosity because it serves as a reminder of our ancient roots.
So, to recap, reasons to start a commune:
1. Sheds stress by: sharing responsibilities of life including cooking and childrearing (It takes a village, right?) and laughing more.
2. Have more parties/Really long sleepover, which my kids seem to think is da bomb, so it must be. (Note here: even little humans have the instict to connect with other little humans, all the time). I guess this goes into #1 as it really would lead to more laughter.
3. Growing your own food - oh, I haven't blogged that much about this topic that is dear to my heart. It's coming, inevitably - so much easier when you have a larger workforce to help.
4. Eat healthier - both due to easy access to fresh produce and because you share cooking with other families.
5. Be less selfish and raise humans that are less selfish.
6. Have healthier perspective on life - share, value things that are not possessions.
7. Buy less stuff due to different values so less trash --> save the planet.
Right??? Who's with me?
Below: My children and Former-Tuesday-Playdate friend's (but always every-day-of-the-week- friend's) children, on a visit this summer.