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Beyond my comfortable book club

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My mother refers to the women in my book club as "the hens." We're stay-at-home moms, for the most part, with 18 young children among the seven of us. We used to have one "chick" among us, but she flew the coop to try acting in Los Angeles. (Some might say she took the one voice of reason with her....)

Needless to say, we don't get out much. So our once-a-month club meetings have become sacred. As an ex-academic wannabe, I crave that cerebral exchange, that questioning of boundaries, that search for new ideas. Or maybe it's just something as basic as conversation beyond diapers.

Bottom line: We're each incredibly blessed.

We live in an affluent, safe suburb with easy access to a major city, and we are all so materially comfortable as to want for nothing - which puts us in major peril of becoming complacent, overly contented housewives. This is not to say we don't have full schedules. Keeping up with the needs of young kids and often-absent husbands can be exhausting, both mentally and physically. And maybe when that last baby has just been born is not the best time to join the Peace Corps in a ravaged country.

Closer to home, between car pools, school auction committees, and feeding the kids better than Ronald McDonald, the little time left over allows for maybe a few hours of occasional volunteer work at the very most, or writing a check to our favorite charities at the very least.

So at this point in our lives, we have to start reaching beyond our cloistered, blessed lives with small gestures.

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