It all began with two mom friends, Holly Harper and Herrin Hopper (say those names three times fast), who used to joke about creating a "mom commune" in Vermont where they'd allow their spouses to visit occasionally. When they both got divorced, however, that joke quickly turned into a reality.
"Holly and I said, 'Why not do this?'" Hopper tells TODAY. "Within a weekend we found this house."
The cost of living in Washington, D.C. is high, after all, and sharing carpooling duties is much more ideal than having all of it fall on one person's shoulders. Soon, both Hopper and Harper found two other single moms, Leandra and Jen, who all decided to move into the four-unit house.
It may not be a commune, but it sounds like Golden Girls meets Full House (which means it sounds awesome). It turned into quite a special living situation during the pandemic when so many families were feeling the effects of isolation.
“This living arrangement is a kid's paradise, complete with a giant trampoline, a parkour line, a garden, a gym, a big-screen TV, and a craft studio,” Harper wrote for Insider. “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.”
Harper told TODAY that the decision to uproot her life and basically start from scratch was initiated by getting divorced and becoming a single mom, turning 40, and losing her dad.
"Just like my life was burned to the ground," she explained. "I could turn to Herrin and say, 'I literally have nothing left. Let’s just do this.'"
It's like when you cut off all your hair (or worse, cut in bangs) when you feel your life careening out of your control—except a much less traumatizing experience, though more permanent. And full of support, hope, and, most important of all in the life of any mother: peace.
"There is almost a spiritual safety net every day here," Hopper 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."
Too often, so many of us get caught up in the sense of "tradition" when it comes to family. Sometimes we're taught things should be a certain way, that our roles are defined for us. These four single moms basically said, "To hell with that" and realized they had the power to live however they wanted and to live any way that worked well for themselves and their children.
"You can do whatever you want," Hopper said. "Burn the rulebook of life and just look at it differently."
All of the kids are between the ages of nine and 14, and the women say they're growing up "like cousins." There's always someone to learn from, relate to, and confide in—which is invaluable for any child. The home, dubbed "The Siren House," has a giant trampoline, hammocks, sleds, and an inflatable pool to boot. (Basically, no one has cause to moan "I'm bored" at The Siren House.)
And because all of the women share expenses—cars, food, babysitting duties, dog-walking, etc.—with one another, there are economical benefits to this arrangement, too. Harper says that their living arrangement saves her $30,000 a year.
Now just because four moms are living together doesn't mean there isn't chaos, of course. With so many people sharing a living space (and four separate families inside of the one giant family), there's bound to be disorganization. Because hey, that's life sometimes.
“We don’t know whose socks are whose ... socks everywhere,” Hopper said. “iPads, dishes, cups. There’s a lot of exchanging that occurs. Usually not planned.”
And that's OK! Because these women are not only creating their own idea of family and their own living arrangements, these women are also creating their own happiness. It's truly beautiful to see.