Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Community at the Park

Today was a much better day. We were still gone all morning, still worn out from it, but it's a good kind of worn out, one that comes from playing hard and being with friends.

First, last night we had a great gathering at our place, as each of us three families are taking a turn to host. While we want to be engaged with Chinese neighbors, not in an expat bubble, we're realizing how crucial time with people who just understand is! And the children have a great time together. The others loved seeing our "new" toys, and Hadassah seemed to enjoy being the host. She kept trying to share things with the 14 month old boy, from her beloved "ni-night" lamb to her drink (yeah, had to cut her joy short on that one). Despite there being 5 kids total, she wasn't overwhelmed... she finally seems to know a group of kids and their parents, being familiar enough with them that I didn't have to be by her side at all times for her to feel safe. She even sat next to one of the other moms for the singing/story time, letting her help her up and down without objection.

She has the same close connection to our neighbors, but due to busy work schedules and the grandparents taking the son to their hometown for a week or two at a time, we haven't been able to spend as much time with them lately. And, it's nice to have another outlet for friendship.

This morning one of the moms sent a wechat message (Chinese equivalent to Facebook) asking if we wanted to go to the park with them. She was going with two Chinese friends and their daughters from their apartment complex. What a joy to be included. The Chinese ladies each had cars to drive which made transportation easy, and Hadassah thoroughly enjoyed spending time by the river watching the boats, sharing snacks, playing in rocks and grass, watching the others in water play, and doing her fair share of wandering on her own. Again, even with some new people, she was just fine. She loved recognizing her friends from the night before, keeping track of the one younger boy (I love seeing her in the "older" role as I think ahead to our new baby) and just having a good time.

We had a short commute (15 minute walk followed by 10 minute drive), spent 2 hours outside, got exercise, fresh air, and fruit, and just enjoyed being with others. No meltdowns, and home in time for lunch with daddy.

God provides. This didn't seem like it would ever be possible just a few months ago while we lived where we do, but now, while I'm not yet super close to these friends, there is potential. Being with people is becoming normal again, the way I always imagined being a mother of young ones would be. I also enjoyed getting to know some new Chinese friends, both of whom speak very good English, but also getting my ears more tuned as their children communicated with them and each other in Chinese. The best of all worlds. It is rare finding Chinese moms who are not working a day-time job, so I am glad to get connected to some as well.

We are also talking about making this Thursday morning get-together a regular thing to plan on, and perhaps having a short Bible study before or after time outside or some place new. One of the families is preparing to travel for a few weeks, so it may be some time before things are set in place, but the conversation is starting. And even if there's no official study, just being with other moms and children, watching how they parent and interact, relating, getting ideas, and just knowing there are others like you... It helps a lot.

I am thankful.

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