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My Dream Neighborhood

Ann Bennett
Austin TX USA
Report from the 2003 LLLI Conference
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 20 No. 5, September-October 2003, pp. 173

As I attended the 18th LLL International Conference in San Francisco with my husband, and our two boys, eight-year-old Adam, and three-year-old Luke, I felt really at home.

During each session and in many of the special rooms, such as the publications and technology rooms, other Leaders had toys that they had brought to give away. My three-year-old was treated to stickers, paper, crayons, beanie babies, balls, and other interesting toys.

This was especially helpful in a continuing education session where a woman in front of me handed me a small stick of glue, a paper plate, and pom-poms. This kept Luke enthralled as I learned all about nursing a premature baby. During one session, he fell asleep. Without my asking, the person next to me packed up all my toys, helped me get sleeping Luke in the sling, and carried my bag to my next session.

At the luncheons, Luke was either in my lap sharing my plate or asleep in the sling. People on my left and right always poured my water, cut up my food, and buttered my bread. At one late-night party, Luke was asleep in a position where I had both arms under him. One woman offered to get me some water. When she brought it back, she said she would put the glass to my lips and hold it for me while I drank. I told her that that was above and beyond, even for an LLLI Conference!

Everyone seemed as though they were old friends and the most helpful neighbors you could ever want to have. I went to every session on my schedule with my three-year-old in tow; he was happy to play with his new friends, new toys, or to nurse as long and as much as he wanted!

I quickly made friends on the elevators, during the luncheons, in sessions, and at parties. I had such a sense of belonging and nurturing. I wished I could pack everyone up and have them move on to my block. Never before have I been in such a large group of people where we had so much in common!

When I was a girl, I always thought about what it would be like to be a mother. I would get the children off to school then chat with other mothers over coffee while the toddlers played underfoot. If I had leftover casserole, I would bring it next door to share. I would have great conversation over a pile of laundry, which would get folded twice as quick with loving hands from next door to help. When it was three o'clock and I had sung every song possible and played every game I could think of, I would send the children outside to play and know that another mother would be out there with her children.

This is not my reality at home. No one to the right or left of me has children and the people across the street have their babies in full-time daycare. It was not until I attended the Conference that I felt I was finally in the dream neighborhood I imagined as a girl. Great conversation and company from someone you only met minutes ago. I can't wait for two years to come home to my neighborhood of fast friends and extra hands in Washington DC at the next Conference. In the meantime, if anyone wants to move next door the house is for sale! Maybe we could start an LLL neighborhood!

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