Serendipity would plan it, we moved two houses down from another young blended family back in tail end of 2020. Our babysitter-turned-granmother Addey was out strolling with our youngest daughter when she met another Addey ( A term of endearment given to moms and grandmoms in Tigrigna) from Eritrea and came back excited to tell us all about their family.
"They are just like you " she exclaimed.
I have to admit, I had very low hopes for suburban neighborly connection after years lived alone in apartments followed by a few years of navigating the treacherous paths of building a blended family void of community. Too 'Americanized' for the Ethiopian culture and not enough assimilated with the typical suburban white picket fence paradigm it had felt like. I had grieved the lack of families with common values and similar interests to raise our atypical family in the witness of. Whatever we experienced, challenges or triumphs, had been alone. Coming close to surrendering to a reality that our community might end up looking like us and our 5 kids, not many significant folks outside of it who shared in the things we cared for the most and who allowed us into their journeys openly.
It makes me wonder how many of you out there may have settled for busy lives as parents only wishing your circle of family would be drawn wider. As most of my readers share our childhood backgrounds in tight knit communities around our nuclear families, I anticipate the loneliness in the highly individualistic lifestyle of western cultures to be a shared struggle as well.
One can imagine my cautious optimism when Addey told us about the blended family with an added twist of Eritrean and American background at play living a few houses adjacent. "Don't get your hopes up" a part of me warned, maybe they prefer their space and privacy and have no need and room for new connections. But the other part brewed quietly in the background.
I lied. I showed up at their doorsteps the very next day to introduce myself.
Feven is caring, friendly and the kind of energy you can be authentic and vulnerable to relatively quickly. Her husband Tim reveals why the two pair so well together with similar friendliness when he is not staring at his wife, totally smitten or he is not was tossing their toddlers (Sophia,4 and Noah, 2) around in the corner. Their house was filled with a magnetic laughter of happy children, then appeared their two teenagers from the kitchen.
Feven stood out as the glue to this beautiful family, a bonus mom to a daughter Nevaeh, and son Aidyn, 19 and 16 respectively.
The blend of love was familiar. the love with which Feven and Tim welcomed me and my family, the one with which the little kids looked up at their teenage siblings added with adornment and guidance. I was immediately pulled towards our commonalities. My heart said "we know them and they know us" I felt like home right away.
The glue she is also is the glue that I am in my blend of love. Being the glue comes with the responsibilities we took and renew everyday, the big hearts we wear on our rolled up sleeves to love, guide, nurture, and serve as best as we can are shared. Never before have I met another woman whom I felt related to the joys and challenges of glue-dom. And Feven knew it.
Our families grow closer over the two years that followed. We became aware of many shared values and challenges along the way that make a life of marriage and parenting worth living. Conversations always brought us closer on our journey to deeper connection not just for us but for our older kids who are picking up on our shared trials and trumps as well, feeling part of a bigger common whole.
This is the unfolding connection of my dreams.
Connection is so vital for a well lived life. To share moments with human beings who can feel similar emotions on a cellular level, empathize with, validate and exchange priceless experiences and lessons amongst ourselves. That has got to be the meaning of community.
Of course I wanted to share the breath of fresh air Feven and Tim are with all of you out there following my work. Hence why they are my next guests on the UnchainingMe Podcast!
I am writing this blog post after an intimate, powerful and moving conversation with this inspiring couple in my studio.
I can not wait to put out into the world the two part podcast episodes we have recorded. So much wisdom in one sitting that you can take away with you and apply in any and all areas of your lives. Weather you are a single father trying to become more of what your kids need, about to take a leap of faith and intension into a relationship with an individual with kids, trying to raise teenagers without damaging the sensitive fabric of the relationship or hoping to strengthen your connection with your spouse, this inspiring couple have so much to humbly teach you without claiming to be perfect themselves.
Now isn't that Unchaining material??
Stay tuned for the first part of the podcast on Thursday the 20th.