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[Quiet Thoughts] of Cookouts

11 months ago

1344 words

Photo: Kindergarten ends in a matter of weeks. Tell me why this child looks like a 2nd grader, though! This child is ridiculous!


I am so sorry that these Quiet Thoughts are going up today instead of yesterday. My usual blogging time was spent attending a lovely middle school play! It was so much fun seeing my young friend show off her skills and have a little fun on stage! When I got home, there was cleaning to do and then I got into bed for much-needed sleep. I was up at 6 and at Wegmans by 7 this morning. Why? Well, we’re hosting a cookout today.

Readers who have been with me for a long while know that the circle of friends we’ve made since we moved into this house are mostly from other towns. Our church is in another town, too, so we spend a lot of time and do a lot of our socializing in other places. Starting kindergarten in our town made me excited, but also brought me apprehension because finding other parents and kids to jive with is difficult work. Being very busy anyway and still hanging out with established friends in nearby towns has meant that I haven’t worked terribly hard on this. And, as I wrote a few posts ago, I know very few of the parents (or kids, really) in Ursa Major’s kindergarten class.

I’ve gone to drinks a couple of times with two other moms from Major’s school. One has a son in Major’s class, the other is the wife of Major’s Boy Scout leader (she has 2 older kids in our school).  These two other moms live in the same neighborhood and are longtime friends, but they’ve sorta let me join their crew. It’s been nice…. And we’ve been bopping around with sporadic get-togethers throughout the school year. But here we are at the end of the year, the warm weather is here and, well, it’s time to have people over. So we’re having a cookout. I’m calling is Star Wars ‘n’ Grill. There will be food and brews and the original Star Wars for the kiddos.

You’re probably wondering why I seem so tepid about it all. Surely I should be more enthused. Well, Dear Reader, I’m nervous. I don’t know how this will go. I’m hoping that this will go well and that we’ll have two local families to spend time with more often, thus helping us meet more families in town and make a stronger network here. We chose this place. We’ve got to become fully invested in it. Then again, I’m just realizing that I don’t know these people terribly well. I’m going to learn a lot today. I just hope that it goes well.

And then we have a playdate tomorrow afternoon with another family. I totally forgot about it. This is a lot of socializing for your humble introvert, Dear Reader! May is so jam-packed with social stuff.

But, my Quiet Thoughts today (and yesterday) are about how this is ultimately a good thing. Frankly, Dear Reader, I had an annoying week. I simply don’t love freelancing. I think I’ve come to the point where I want to stop furthering other people’s dreams while forever putting aside my own. I told my husband this week that I forgot how much I dislike other people. Why, oh why, do I always ending up having to be in a meeting or in a room where I have to be charming, interesting, contributing? Patience and grace are exhausting. There was a point this week when I thought I was done. I wanted to retreat back fully into suburban motherhood: I’ll keep up with my house, be fully present for my children, watch Dr. Phil, and forget that I ever had another ambition.

Thomas Merton was the one to scold me about my frustration. In a chapter on obedience in New Seeds of Contemplation, he writes:  “Do you think the way to sanctity is to lock yourself up in your prayers and your books and the meditations that please and interest your mind, to protect yourself, with many walls, against people you consider stupid?”

He goes on, asking: “Do you think the way to contemplation is found in the refusal of activities and works which are necessary for the good of others but which happen to bore and distract you?”

Finally, he asks how a person can discover God if they are constantly rejecting other people, as God “will not even live within you if you cannot find Him in other men[.]”

In other words, I was reminded this week that I need to take my own advice: I tell ya’ll every Friday to keep reaching out, keep opening up yourself to others. Yet here I have spent my own week lamenting about working with people who are driving me crazy. Giving not a little bit of thought to simply walking away, writing off some folk, deciding that I’m better off without them (and maybe even that I’m better than they are).

There is nothing healthy about isolation. To be alone is not to be better. To wall off and retreat means not to learn from the challenge, and ultimately to stagnate instead of grow. As a mom far from family, I know that community matters. I had to call up my whole network yesterday just to find the 20-minute gap of babysitting that I thought I was going to need so I could make it to that middle school play. It took some strings and a couple of calls, but I found it (and ultimately didn’t need it). That wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t been reaching out over these years, working hard to grow a little network of loving people around me and my sons. Walls don’t help. People do. In my frustration over work and productivity, I have to always keep this in mind.

So, jerk chicken is marinading. So are chicken kabobs, steak kabobs and I’ve got to get some shrimp marinating soon. Beer was bought. Rice needs to be cooked and watermelon needs to be cut. It’s a time to smile and laugh, to listen to stories and tell a few. I hope today’s little cookout is the start of lasting friendships. Let no walls be built today. Just plates staked high with good grilled food.

It is a perfect New England day, Dear Reader. Birds sing outside the window, flowers are budding, the crass is freshly cut, the tables will be ready shortly. My house is clean (for now) and my fridge is full. It’s a good day to have a party.

Though it is Saturday, I still have wishes for you. I wish you something grilled and delightful this weekend, Dear Reader. Something as pedestrian as a hot dog or as elevated as a lobster. Scallops are lovely, too! Experiment with some pork belly, perhaps? I wish you cold lemonade now and a splashy cocktail later. I wish you a cool breeze and warm sun, a colorful butterfly to flutter by, and thick grass under foot. I wish you time to lay down and look up at the passing clouds. I wish you a sigh of content, laughter at a passing memory, and a moment feel like you’re part of all the abundant life outside right now. I wish you a kiss on the check, a squeeze of your hand, and the intimacy of a story told to you in close quarters for your ears only. Above all, as always, I wish you the wonderful knowledge that you are loved. What you do in this world matters. You give more than you think you do and you are admired for what it is that you offer. Though the days are growing longer and the sun is shining more brightly, do not think that your light is less necessary. You are still needed, at your best and at your brightest.

Until Monday, dance, laugh, reach out, make you a plate, have you a drink, and take care.

2 Replies to “[Quiet Thoughts] of Cookouts”

  1. From one introvert to another, here’s my two pence worth: It is really important to acknowledge the craving for hiding away and even to have a little wallow in it. For me, this urge is strongest when I have had a social turn-on-the-charm spate of things going on – whether that’s meeting new people or catching up with old friends – and I’ve learnt to take it as a sign that I have over-balanced and need to centre myself again. As you say, isolation is not healthy long term but we are all different and it IS healthy to nurture yourself and the things that call to you to keep it all in balance.

    1. I totally agree with you. The most important and best self-care is that precious time alone. Silence and stillness is recharging. I totally get it and love it.

      I’m really talking about my person inclination to simply write people off. I’m very good at it. I have cut the threads and walked away from people. It’s not healthy to do it (en masse, anyway), and that’s really what I was talking about. My first inclination is almost always to be like, “that person’s a fool. I don’t need this shit.” And that’s all well and good until I turn around and notice I’m alone. Gotta figure out a new strategy, and that means a more open heart and more flexibility in what to expect, what to accept.

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