Sometimes people are incredibly fortunate, and they get that village. They have great babysitters or a super caring, reliable nanny. Or maybe they have retired parents that live locally or a surplus of aunts and uncles that pitch in whenever they can. Others may live far from their families or may not be on good terms with some family members and doing this whole parenting thing on their own. Everyone should be entitled to that small village, but not everyone gets dealt that hand.
For me, I would say that my village is my neighborhood. Yes, I have family that lives locally, but their busy job schedules do not allow for frequent family get-togethers or even weekly grandparent snuggle time. Sometimes when I think about where I live and who I live close to, I truly feel like the most blessed person on the planet when I realize that my neighbors have become a second family to me.
I moved to a small, family-friendly neighborhood called Purdys in July 2016. Purdys is one of the many small sections of Somers, New York. After some research, while living in Brooklyn and working in East Harlem as a teacher, I decided on this area. I knew I wanted to raise my daughter (and son on the way!) in a safe, calm community.
I also grew up in the neighboring town of Mahopac, and went to John F. Kennedy Catholic High School in Somers, and was already familiar with the town. Purdys is a tiny, cozy lake community where we pride ourselves on everyone knowing each other and lending a helping hand when someone needs it, no questions asked.
The kids go swimming and fishing at the lake every summer. There’s a clubhouse that holds holiday parties, summer barbecues, fireworks for the Fourth of July, and even an Easter egg hunt each year. Everyone has a golf cart (except me, even though we want one so badly!), and they use it to load up their beach chairs and toys or to drive around and wave to friends.
It’s safe, warm, and in my opinion, the best place to raise kids.
Since moving here, I have been lucky enough to make the most wonderful friends. These friends and I have legitimately become like a small extended family. We trust one another, and if someone needs help, you’d better believe someone is there to step in. We even argue about who can jump in. “No, you are working from home! I got the kids!”
We take each others’ kids off the bus when someone is running late, drop off food when someone is sick, give out extra Tylenol when someone runs out, and let the kids house-hop in the summer. There is even a sports camp at the lake called Heart and Hustle run by the families who live here, and all the kids love to go each summer, mine included.
Amazingly, we all have children around the same age who also go to school together, starting from preschool. They ride the bus together, do after-school activities, and are usually present at each others’ birthday parties and family celebrations. You can find us all at the lake together in the summers, going on little getaways when time allows, and hanging out on the weekends in front of a bonfire. We genuinely care for one another and all the kids as if they were our own.
We have even started a few traditions. One couple, who also have two school-aged children close to my kids’ ages, decided we needed to create a tradition where we all go to chop down our Christmas trees together. My kids laugh because we have a fake tree, but we still go for the experience and would never miss the fun! So every year, we visit Battenfeld’s Christmas Tree Farm in Red Hook and make a day of it. We take pictures with Santa, have hot chocolate, visit the gift shop, and even get a little football in. The kids look forward to it every year, and the adults love an opportunity to set up shop on the grass and relax while watching the kids have the time of their lives.
We have even made another tradition of spending New Year’s Eve together in the last couple of years. Everyone is only a few houses away from one another, so each year, someone takes the job of hostess, and we all know that we will have a fun, kid-friendly New Year’s party to go to, and no one has to worry about driving.
They say it takes a village, they say…or maybe a small neighborhood community to help you when things get tough, when you need those extra sets of hands, or when you need to relax and have some fun. My neighbors have been beside me through the most challenging times and have helped me navigate parenthood.
We have had days and nights together where we laugh way too much, trade stories, and plan adventures. Our children love having built-in friends for life and truly love and protect one another. I may not have the biggest house or a tropical vacation planned yearly, but I have a life filled with love. Thank you to my village; I couldn’t have done it without you.