I'm lucky because I have a good family and wonderful friends. They are great and they do a lot for me but I've got to tell you, my ward is my peeps. I didn't choose them and they wouldn't choose me and yet--here we are. I see them and interact with them almost every day. They do things for me and they are helping me raise my kids. There are plenty of weirdos. Every ward has a few weirdos and if yours doesn't--it's you.
My ward is the group of people I go to church with. It's my neighborhood, basically. Here in Utah what we have in common mostly is proximity. But then you sit in meetings with them and teach their kids while they teach yours. You eat food together and you set up and take down a lot of chairs. You find that you have a common purpose. You donate money when someone needs it and you always get something if you need it. I got a bag of cookies and a package of M&Ms in my milk box last week from someone in my ward. Someone else taught my son to shake hands. Someone else helped Ellen learn to sit still. And my neighbor who has nine kids ran out of her house yesterday to take my picture for me because I thought my hair looked good and I needed a photo for a new blogging job (Babble!). You think about the church and you think about salvation but it's not just that (even though that's pretty important). It's other things like, "My hair looks good so can you just do something with those nine kids of yours right this second and take my picture?" People can be really nice. Sometimes it's their calling. But so what? It's still genuine.
The last time my dad visited me--his visits are infrequent and fraught--Christian and I were working outside to get our yard looking good for company. My neighbor, who is about the right age to be my dad, came over, chatted genially, and bent over and started pulling weeds with us. He said some wise and encouraging things, gave my kids an Otter Pop, and off he went. He did everything a dad would do. I don't need any more than that. See what I'm saying?
I'm not saying everyone is perfect and I love them all with all my heart. There are disappointing people and I get mad that my husband has to be gone all the time for his church calling but none of that takes away the fact that people in my ward are teaching my sons to camp and tie knots and show up and be good. They smell their BO. They sleep in tents on the hard ground and eat dirty food that Boy Scouts helped cook. They don't get paid and they certainly don't get thanked. They don't do it because they love my boys (even though they usually end up loving my boys). They do it because somebody asked them to do it. They might even do it begrudgingly--I certainly do some of my callings begrudgingly. I think that makes it even nicer.
The only people in the world who have gotten up as early as I have to
tend to my kids is their Young Men and Young Women leaders. They show up
in wee hours to take them to temple sessions. They went on a pioneer
trek that I myself was unwilling to go on so my kids could have an
awesome experience. Awesome--yes, but not so convenient or comfortable
for a Ma and Pa who could have been home watching TV but who--instead--spent vacation hours and babysitting resources
to go on a freaking pioneer trek.One time I watched a lady during sacrament meeting. Her son was passing the sacrament for the first time. She discretely pointed out the direction he needed to go, even though he holds the priesthood and she doesn't. Peeps in my ward are teaching me how to be a good mom. I'm in primary with the kids for most of church. There is a guy in there who teaches the three-year-olds with his wife. I doubt the rest of the ward knows that he sits through two hours of church with at least two kids fighting over his lap. They love him. They touch his face and play with his hair. I know how that sounds--borderline molesty. But it's not. It's sweet.
Peeps in my ward plan parties for me that I don't even want to go to like they are some over-eager friend. But then I go (begrudgingly) and it's fun and good. I used to plan those parties for them and they came (begrudgingly) and it was fun and good. Left to my own devices I would stay home and do nothing (don't get me wrong--this is not without merit) but sometimes a little nudge to do more is OK. You can't anticipate what you're going to get from these peeps because you don't always know what you need. I didn't know I needed a frozen chocolate drumstick with nuts from my gal-pal/80-year-old neighbor yesterday but as it turned out, it hit the spot quite nicely.