It’s an inside joke amongst mom pals Holly Harper and Herrin Hopper that they’re going to build a “mom commune” (purchase a property and live together) in Vermont and invite their husbands to come on the regular.
After their divorces and the exorbitant expense of living in Washington, D.C., plus the COVID-19 epidemic, the concept didn’t seem so crazy.
Holly and I came up with the idea, so we did it. Harper thought back.
They located a four-unit building throughout a weekend and dubbed it the “Siren House” after the legendary sea nymphs.
They met two other single women, Jen and Leandra, and all four of them purchased a home and lived together, sharing expenses and raising their children. It’s not quite a commune, and it’s not quite an extended family, but everyone involved seems to be happy with the arrangement.
Every day, you can practically count on a spiritual safety net. Hopper said, “I might be my worst self, or my greatest self, and they see me for who I am, and that’s OK.”
Although Harper has never been one to break with convention, the chance to share a home with a close friend presented itself at a pivotal juncture in her life. She had just reached 40, her marriage had failed, and her father had passed away.
“It seemed like my life was destroyed by fire,” she reflected. I might look at Herrin and say, “I really don’t have anything more to offer. What the heck? Let’s do it.
Harper has discovered something liberating about community living: “You can do anything you want.” Get rid of your life’s playbook and take a fresh look at things.
The families can now save money each month and even enjoy a higher standard of living thanks to the co-housing arrangement. The ladies in the group coordinate everything from meal preparation and carpooling to dog walking and emotional support. Harper claims that she has cut her annual housing expenses by $30,000.
The Siren House is more spacious than Harper’s previous home and costs much less. In the wake of her divorce, she moved into a one-bedroom apartment that she occupied for a whole 18 months. The sum she was paying each month for housing, transportation, and maintenance was $2,550.
The only downside to having so many people under one roof is the inevitable chaos that ensues.
There are “socks everywhere”, and “we don’t know whose socks are whose,” as Hopper put it. Devices, utensils, and drinkware. Quite a bit of back and forth takes place. It’s not something you anticipate happening.
The kids, aged 9 to 14, are close and treat each other like cousins. A Siren House features everything a child might want, including a parkour slackline, garden, gym, 15-foot trampoline, big-screen TV, creative studio, and inflatable pool in the summer.
And the co-living arrangement has given single mothers even more independence. A parent who knows that other people in the house can care after the kids while they’re gone may leave the house without worrying about leaving them behind.
The neighbourhood’s mothers get together monthly for “homeowners meetings” to talk about the cost of maintaining the yard and the roof. The customary use of champagne enhances the celebratory nature of the event.
The four ladies have had many inquiries from other single mothers interested in trying out a co-housing community like theirs, and they can only hope their idea will spread.
Isn’t Siren a type of feminist power? He said, Hopper. “We have the siren song, so people are drawn to us as we establish a community,”
Even though their house has flaws, it provides four families with the best possible opportunity to share in life’s true pleasures.
As Harper put it for Insider, “the purpose of life is not to attain some level of bliss but to establish an atmosphere where we are safe to seek pleasure in every moment.”