It's a birthday party weekend. Tomorrow P gets to go to the bday party of one of his best buddies, who is also a school mate and neighbor. We love her and her family and we're all looking forward to it, even if P did pick a rather weird gift (Bananagrams for a 6 year old girl on her birthday? Hehe :) ). Today there was a bday party for A's friend, a sweet little toddler we know through preschool.
I have to say, it was a bit of a new experience at first!
I had dressed myself and A in our normal attire. Well, okay, I refused to let A wear his "Birthday Boy" shirt, which he's worn at least once a week since October. He chose his Angry Birds shirt as a nice back up, with some old but not busted jeans and his light up Spider Man shoes. Me? Eh, SAHM attire I guess. A tanktop, some grey sweats, black Sketchers and a brown fleece jacket over top since it's kind of drizzly and chilly. I hadn't been able to take a shower yesterday nor this morning so my hair was a little greasy, but I gave it a good brush and figured I'd get a pass since, eh, it's a group of parents with small children.
So yeah, we followed the directions and drove out to their house and I swear, as I was driving the houses kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger. And pretty ornate as well, not like my 30 year old, slapped together, just-outside-downtown house. I began to feel a little... inadequate.
We had some trouble with the directions, but finally found their cul-de-sac, which lead to a very long driveway (roughly 1K feet I'd guess). I parked near the other cars, as more arrived behind me. Here I was in my small, needs-a-wash, side of rearview mirror cracked, 12 year old blue Camry and all around me were sparkly clean white and black SUVs. I watched a couple of the other families get out of their cars. Tall, thin, well dressed and perfectly coifed people with gorgeous handbags and children in cute and somewhat dressy clothes. I grabbed Ambrose's little bright green froggy bag (I had shoved his diapers and extra clothes in, along with my wallet and phone), and pulled him out from the car.
Once I'd cleaned off all of the bits of torn tissue from him (where did he find that? Was it used???), and attempted to smooth down my hair, we walked up to the house. To say it is much larger and more spacious than ours is an understatement! I was looking at the other moms, the other kids, the house, and realizing what sort of world I was in... and suddenly my mind flashed back to when this family had come to A's birthday party last fall and how the mom had sat on my permanently not-quite-clean carpet in a messy living/dining room, squished in with other people, with all that mismatched furniture and the old windows with the cracking frames and our old popcorn ceilings with paint smears here and there from where I messed up and... yeah....
I felt so completely and utterly out of place.
And as much I love this family and the child whose birthday it was, I wanted to get out of there.
I don't belong here, they'll judge me! was running through my mind. Perhaps it would be better to just meet up at preschool where we're on equal ground.
But... that's ridiculous.
I'm an adult, they're adults, and there's nothing for me to be ashamed about here.
So we went in, and I socialized, and so did A, and I caught myself being nervous a couple of times at first and literally held my own hand to stop a nervous habit. I talked to people, chatted, and had a great time as did the kids. And I felt just as truly included as everyone else. It was nice to get to chat with the mom of this family for awhile, as well as other people I was meeting for the first time. A had a blast with his friends, both old and new, and we were the last ones to leave with A and the birthday boy running around outside together for a bit while I got to talk to the mom (who is so sweet!). It was truly a fun morning.
I came home and, after handing off A, I took my much needed shower. Oh, did it feel nice! As I was washing my hair I found myself in an internal debate. It was after 1pm, everyone else had ended up eating lunch but I'd only had a couple of crackers with cheese. Should I try to eat some lunch? Or just have a snack since I wasn't all that hungry and then eat dinner a bit early? Just a salad now with something light this evening? Or a piece of fruit and then maybe go out to dinner later? As I weighed the pros and cons and thought about how to plan the rest of the day, it suddenly struck me. Images of the children we're sponsoring, images of the people we'd met in Ethiopia, images of starving people from all over the world, including our own country. "Should I eat more of my clean/fresh/nutritious food, that I can easily afford, now, or just a little now and more later?" How many people would literally give anything to be able to have that choice? To have what I have? How many people would kill for a roof over their heads, water at the tap (enough to waste on a hot shower!), food in so many varieties and quantities, a working car, a living and healthy family, an able body, a strong support system, an education, a safe place to live, so, so, so much...
It was as if from the back of my brain a voice was screaming, "don't you dare pity yourself, don't you dare think of yourself as poor, look around and see your bounty for you are truly RICH!" and it's so true, so true...
So today, as I sit in my warm, dry house at my working computer with my loving, intact family asleep upstairs taking peaceful naps in their own beds, in their own rooms, I give great thanks for the many and numerous blessings around my and throughout my life.
For good friends, from all walks of life, for the yummy left over cake from last night, for little boys giving great big hugs, for super comfortable grey sweats (seriously, my lower half is in heaven over here), for the promise that this life will continue and that instead of worrying about the next paycheck or the next time we'll eat or the next time we could afford a doctor's visit, our only worry today is whether to eat in our out for dinner.
I am so, so lucky...
Lily in a loafing barn
10 months ago