Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Our 21st Century Village

We're riding out the storm of H1N1, our mountain community seemingly paused as mothers keep their sick children as comfortable as possible at home. I'm in touch via e-mail with other moms playing nurse to feverish, lethargic loves--comparing temperatures and symptoms, exchanging news from schools or pediatricians, and generally providing what support we can for each other as we remain hunkered down in the isolation of our own homes. It seems everyone is affected: families from school, families in the neighborhood, and families we know from our activities around town.

There is an air of communal crisis in the air, akin to what we experience in the midst of blizzards or other large-scale disasters. People check in to make sure everyone's doing okay, offering what limited help or information is available. While there's little or no fear related to the "pandemic," the simple disruption of routine necessitating the halt of all activity is enough to create a sort of fellowship of the flu-afflicted.

It's the proverbial village at work, 21st century style. And there's something sweet and comforting about it. It's a reminder that when needed, our busy world of perpetual motion can still slow down to offer the kind of support humanity has depended upon for centuries.

So we all snuggle in close with our little ones, waiting for the fevers and coughs and general misery to pass, and we connect with each other in the few minutes after bedtime or when we're not needed to wipe a nose or administer medicine or rub a back. We check-in with each other, and we are reassured that we are not alone in the work and worry of motherhood.

And just as our physical presence as parents somehow makes it all better for our kids, our "virtual" presence as friends makes it better for each other: this is the gift of community, whether the relationship is forged through genetics or circumstance.

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