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Growing up, one of the things I used to dream
about was having a big, cohesive, loving and supportive family: a husband and five kids, grandparents and cousins, aunts and uncles
all doing happily ever after together.
As an adult, I've recently come to realize
that I've built that family for myself. It doesn't look like how I always pictured
it would; there is no husband to speak of, no one is genetically linked to me
and only one of those children running around our family gatherings is mine.
But I have these amazing friends who have become exactly the family I always yearned
for; they're people I talk to or see several times a week, with all our kids close in
age and forever running around after each other in a loud and chaotic way.
I have the family I always wanted. And I am
beyond blessed because of it.
My core group of friends and I
routinely joke about the benefits of sister wife living. And as the lone single
girl in our group, I am often the one referred to as being everyone's sister
wife. My daughter and I regularly have slumber parties at various homes,
particularly when husbands are out of town for work. As a group, we have
been known to travel together and pitch in wherever help is needed.
There is something kind of amazing about
having those extra hands around, something that makes the idea of buying a
commune and living together on a more full-time basis sound pretty
For these reasons and more, I can totally see
myself being a happy little sister wife:
1. All your bases are covered
Cooking is not my forte. Talk to just about
anyone who knows me, and they will acknowledge this simple fact. I have a lot
of great qualities, but none of them really culminate in the kitchen.
You know what, though? I have friends who are
incredible cooks. And our sister wife nights always work out pretty well, with
them in the kitchen and me keeping the kids out of their hair. One of the
biggest benefits we can see is that dividing up the
household duties can truly become about assigning each person to what they are
good at. To what they enjoy. I have endless patience for kids and tantrums, but
not so much love for meal planning and clean up. In a sister wife setting,
though, my daughter and I could still eat well every night—and I could
contribute in ways I excel.
There is something to be said for embracing that "it takes a village" mentality and for coming together as a family, even when blood is not what unites you.
2. There's never an emergency that can't be handled
As a single mother, one of the things that
truly scares me is worrying about what would happen if I were ever
incapacitated. A bad illness, for instance, or an injury that made it difficult
to care for my child. Emergencies happen, but most people have at least that
one extra set of hands to take over when need be.
The beauty in our situation is that I know if
anything major ever happened, my friends would swoop in and help with my girl
without question. But if we were living as true sister wives, it would be that
much easier for them to take over if need be and for everyone to pitch in as a
family whenever one of us might be down.
3. Grownups to talk to
Again, this might be a single mommy thing, but
there is something to be said for always having grownups around to talk to. I
am a true introvert, and I like my space, but I also like having my friends
around to bounce things off of and to laugh with after the kids are in bed.
That may just be my favorite thing about our sister wife slumber parties. And if we all
lived on a commune, or bought out a bunch of houses in a cul-de-sac, we could
have that conversation we crave so often, whenever we wanted.
4. Multiple authority figures to look up to
I truly believe my daughter benefits by growing up around all
these strong, intelligent, loving and compassionate adults. I love that she has
so many aunties and uncles to turn to and learn from. Just among my female
friends, we have a geneticist, an engineer, a pharmacist, a writer, an
accountant and a few kick-ass stay-at-home moms—all of us thriving and happy
in the roles we have chosen to pursue. I think that's a pretty substantial
thing for my daughter to grow up seeing, and I wouldn't be at all opposed to
her being exposed to more of that.
So yeah, we joke a lot about how great it would be to live as
actual sister wives. A few of my friends have even teased that they could leave
the husbands behind; that between us girls, we could handle the child rearing
just fine if we did it commune style. As the only single one, I've been quick
to remind them of all the ways in which the men actually contribute, but I do
agree that we are a pretty capable group of women. And that we are stronger as a group than we are as individuals.
When we joke about being sister wives, it isn't about swapping
husbands, it's about expanding upon the benefits we already see when we come
together as a family. It's about not-so-secretly yearning for that connection
and cohesiveness on an even more regular basis than we already have. Because we
truly do love being around each other; we truly do love what child-rearing
looks like when we are doing it together.
I grew up wanting a big, cohesive, loving and supportive family.
And I have it now. We'll probably never actually realize that dream of all living
on the same block or commune. And who knows? Maybe we would grow to be sick of
each other if we did. But there is something to be said for embracing that "it
takes a village" mentality and for coming together as a family, even when
blood is not what unites you.
I'm personally pretty damn thankful for my faux-sister wives, and
grateful for the ways in which we have woven our families together. I wouldn't
change a thing.
But I may continue keeping an eye out for that cul-de-sac of
houses we could all buy together.