Today was one of those days where I actually rose to the occasion of being a mom, the way I’d always envisioned I could be or might be. I realize I haven’t stepped up to the plate as an engaged, active mom the way I always hoped. But tonight, I took my sweet girl and her “he’s-just-a-friend” Lincoln to the school carnival.
Truthfully, I was dreading it. I find it exhausting being social with people that I sort of know but don’t really know. And of course, we circle back to that recurring theme of self-consciousness. Rick stayed home, so he could take the boys to a birthday party, and then he came back and hung out here. So it was me, Lex and Lincoln. The place was PACKED tonight; families everywhere. And yet not surprisingly, the two kids found other friends and bolted away nearly the second we walked in the place. Leaving me on my own.
I find being on my own very intimidating. I spend way too much time thinking about what other people might think of me. But then – when I got out of my own very little mind and started really paying attention to my surroundings, I was able to just enjoy watching my daughter. My extroverted, life-loving, joyful daughter. I watched as she flitted between friends. She has such a delightful way of making all of her friends feel so important. She wouldn’t let her friend Kendall stand on her own for long (despite the fact that Kendall kept returning to the “cake walk,” determined to win a cake for herself.) She gave Lincoln her full attention and gave him advice when he wanted to figure out what candy to buy at the concession stand. She ran around and hugged her friends Maddy and Emily, and they shared deep giggles and then happily ran their separate ways.
Even though I arrived on my own and was so uncomfortable with being alone, I think there was something about Alexis’ sweet, lighthearted nature that just gave me more confidence to put myself out there and spend time talking with my friends and acquaintances at the event. I chatted for a bit with a woman who is the mother of a girl my son has been friends with (and perhaps has a crush on) for years. I ran into my friend’s friend Molly and learned that she has three children under the age of 12 – which I never knew – and enjoyed some small talk with her for a while. I saw my friend Laurie who is the “Scout Mom” for my son’s new scout troop, who tells me I MUST go camping with her sometime this summer. (Um, yeah, I’ll think on that one!) I talked with Lex’s friend’s Dad for a while, as well as with his girlfriend, who both find Alexis enchanting and who were kind enough to tell me that our daughter’s friendship has emboldened their daughter to the point where she’s now making new friends at home. I saw my friend Paige and chatted for a while; met her twin sons whom I’ve not seen for a year – both of who were exhausted and crying and precious as could be.
I admit, as a professional communicator sometimes I honestly feel like talking with people in a crowded / party situation is one of the most exhausting things I can endure. My preference is to spend time with people one-on-one; the small talk thing just isn’t me and it’s NEVER been my forte. But tonight, when I finally had a chance to stop and really, really TALK with my friend Tammy, it started making me re-think my whole take on social situations. Even with the crowd, she and I stayed engaged in a conversation for quite some time – a fun, funny, interesting conversation.
And even though Lex and I didn’t get to spend a ton of time together, what she knew is tonight, SHE was my priority. But she also taught me by example that I could also make my friends a priority, even if only for a moment.