Just over a year ago we packed up a moving truck and said goodbye to our first home; the perfect suburban farmhouse. This little white house was the place we brought most of our children home to including some who came to us through foster care and were no longer with us. Countless tender memories had been made here, sweat equity was earned here, here a group of people became a family. Yet this family had outgrown this home by more than just space. This family, my family had outgrown the community we were living in.
It became clear that what we were trying to raise our family in was beyond just words, it would need action. Our words said we need to get to know, see and love others who look or live differently than we do yet we were surrounded by people just like us – that is, all of us except our three youngest kids who happen to be adopted.
I remember watching our daughter in a community dance class being affected by the fact that she drastically stuck out from the rest. There was no one who looked even remotely like her, no one she could identify with. It was around this same time that I became aware of a beautiful community in the heart of the city. We attended a longstanding weekly neighborhood dinner that is open to anyone and were astonished by the beauty we encountered there. At this dinner we witnessed one family giving of their time and resources to bring people together, people from different racial backgrounds, different social-economic statuses and people with different views sharing a meal and doing life together and we wanted in.
Several months later we said goodbye to our perfect suburban farmhouse and moved into a classic Milwaukee bungalow. We were welcomed by new neighbors bringing us meals, garden fresh vegetables and grabbing a few boxes to help us move in. I was struck by the nostalgia of neighboring I saw around me and amazed to see that people still live this way.
The following night I was struck again, this time by fear as I saw our city in a swell of flames and rioting mere blocks away from our new home. This was not what I signed up for, this was in no way the welcome I expected for my suburban turned city dwelling family.
Left with a choice to make, I could let fear overtake me and jump boat on this city living idea or I could stay and learn and grow and shed light on all the beauty I saw happening around me. That is what I choose to do and let me tell you that in the days that followed this unrest in Milwaukee, I saw compassion and love and unity where division tried to take further root – and that is still what I see today. Every day that I wake to a new day in Milwaukee, I wake to a better understanding of those around me. I wake to a community who loves my family and my children. I wake to children who look around at their neighbors and see a reflection they can connect with. Every day I awake to Milwaukee, I awake to diversity, to more understanding, to community and to walking forward through the difficult. Every day I awake to Milwaukee, I wake to beauty and love.
I can’t wait to share more stories with you about Motherhood, our beautiful city of Milwaukee and life the way I see it.