When we're taught a traditional, 'gold-standard' vision of the future as children, realizing that you might want something different can often feel strange or wrong. What if it doesn't work out? What if people rally to tell you, 'I told you so,' after all you did was dare to break the mold a little bit?
Or what if it does work out? What if your dreams were not too strange at all—you just had to prove to yourself that you could do it?
A group of four women made a bold move when envisioning their future and the future of their children, trying something they had never seen done before and seeing where it took them.
The modern American dream is as follows: get married, buy a house, have a few kids, remain in pleasant normalcy until your kids bounce, then enjoy retirement in a calm, understated way. Spend the rest of your days playing golf or doing crosswords, watch your kids have grandkids, then eventually kick the bucket.
That's long since been thought of as the 'standard' family life and it's what many people strive for as it's what we're taught to desire. But what about those who break that mold?
Began As A Dream
A group of four women in Washington, D.C., decided to take this idea of the typical American home structure and turn it on its head. By focusing on the bonds of friendship over romance, they came together as a new, thriving type of household, creating what is essentially an urban commune.
What these four women did is purchase a large home, consisting of four separate 'apartments', together for themselves and their children, creating a newfound family arrangement that had been working incredibly well for them.
It all began with a joke that friends Holly Harper and Herrin Hopper would make with one another, saying they'd happily live in a commune in Vermont with one another. When the two divorced their husbands, they started seriously looking at that as an option for their future.
They decided to look around for other women who may be interested, and found Jen and Leandra, two also single women who found the idea both exciting and fascinating.
"Holly and I said, 'Why not do this?'" Harper told Today. "Within a weekend, we found this house."
The group found a four-unit house that comfortably fits themselves and their children, and immediately, the benefits were unlike anything they could have imagined.
They were not only saving money, but the home had become such a wonderful space to raise their children in. "We've unlocked the power of sharing, and our baseline expenses decreased, allowing us to experience abundance," Harper wrote for Insider.
Fit For A King
"This living arrangement is a [...] paradise, complete with [...] a garden, a gym, a big-screen TV, and a craft studio," Harper wrote. “Our kids—who can use the buddy system for a walk to get gelato, and who have playmates during the quarantine and homeschool months—are thriving.”
The children in the home range from ages nine to 14, and see each other as cousins. Living with such a large group has allowed them to take in a multitude of new perspectives they might not have otherwise had were they in a single-family home.
Ways To Play
The house is also fully decked out with every luxury a kid could ask for. They have a 15-foot trampoline, an inflatable pool for the summertime, hammocks, sleds, and even a parkour slackline! There's plenty for the kids to do and plenty of ways for them to bond.
The group called their home "The Siren House." It wasn't just beneficial for the kids, but the moms loved it too. Harper says in her Insider piece that this living arrangement had saved her $30,000 by sharing emergency repair expenses, no longer paying rent, and through other split expenses.
One For All
Having such an intertwined way of living with so many people meant sharing between the individual families had been largely adopted.
"We don't know whose socks are whose ... socks everywhere," Harper writes. “iPads, dishes, cups. There’s a lot of exchanging that occurs. Usually not planned.”
To help make sure things didn't fall into complete disarray, the moms had routine "homeowners meetings" where they discussed things like repairs and yard work that needs to be done. Even these meetings, though, are done with a casual air. The last thing these women want is any sort of stress present in their home.
An Aura Of Safety
"There is almost a spiritual safety net every day here," Harper said. "I could be my worst self, I could be my best self, and they see me for who I am, and it's OK."
What this group had created here is an alternative to the standard family home life we're fed since our own childhoods. No need for a spouse to rely on, no need to have a typical two-parent child-raising system, and no need to take on the burden of every single maintenance chore.
Then, Disaster Struck
The four women moved into the home in the summer of 2020. In early 2021, they offered one of the other women a rent-to-own option, the one living in the home's basement unit. She initially agreed, but in mid-2022, she decided that she wanted to leave. As Harper wrote in her essay about the house's dissolution, "By June, we weren't speaking on a face-to-face basis. By July things were outright toxic."
They had protections and documents in place should something like this happen, so they were prepared from a legal standpoint, but that didn't fix the heartbreak they felt over the matter.
Too Much Too Soon
Another issue arose because the women had started a small business together, which made the separation even more complicated.
Harper attributes the dissolution of The Siren House to financial stress. "All three of the investors in our property have some sort of financial trauma, and I dramatically underestimated the impact it would have when things got hard," she wrote. "When [our] business didn't create the returns needed to sustain itself and provide income, the pressure mounted on all of us."
The collective stress caused a break that would result in the one member moving out, leaving the future of The Siren House in murky waters.
Their Original Strengths
The Siren House proves that there are other ways of living besides what's been fed to us our whole lives. These women took what started as a joke, a dream between friends, and made it a reality. They proved their strength and independence by taking such an unusual, rarely-seen approach to their future.
Though it didn't end up being their 'forever', that doesn't mean it didn't have its benefits, and who's to say it couldn't work for someone else? One member moving out of an otherwise successful living situation is not indicative of a complete failure, it's just a reminder that not everyone is capable of living together.
As Harper wrote, "The goal of life is not to reach some plane of happiness but to create an environment where we are safe to pursue happiness in every moment."
This also isn't necessarily an end for The Siren House. Harper states that she's willing to take on another tenant to replace the one who moved out, but she's certainly learned her lesson when it comes to moving way too fast.
"Clarity, shared understanding, and explicit commitments create structures of accountability that help people collaborate and make better decisions," she wrote. "I know this through business consulting and my relationship with the original investor in The Siren House. It is up to me to slow down, observe, and learn moving forward so I don't repeat my mistakes as we open our home to the next tenant."
If you're looking for more information on your life and your individual sign, then you'll need your own zodiac reading. We're each on our own unique path and what some struggle with this season, might not be applicable to you too.
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