Surely, you have all had this moment. You have been juggling this and that for the most part of the week. You’ve either been up with a newborn, chasing a toddler, doing a school project that is due the next day, or stayed up way too late consoling your college student with an issue at hand. You wake up the next morning and repeat. Maybe it’s a different lineup of tasks for the day and throw in a trip to the vet, a “quick” Walmart run or doctor’s appointment or you get that unexpected and dreaded phone call from the school nurse that your child either has or has been exposed to COVID and they have to quarantine!
Now, it is the weekend. You name the (somewhat) required social event that is on the calendar: your husband’s office Christmas party, a Mardi Gras ball, a friend’s daughter’s wedding. You picked out the dress a month ago to make sure it fit (enough) or you borrowed one from a friend in an emergency pinch. Now you just have to settle the kids, debrief the sitter, and put final touches on your hair and makeup. Deep breath, you are ready to go.
You are barely aware of the drive there as you are running through the mental checklist to ensure that your written and verbal details transmitted to the sitter were enough for you to return to a somewhat tidy home and mostly settled children. You know, because that is “the plan” and why you are paying someone. Your husband has parked and opens your car door … you have arrived. As you enter the venue, you are suddenly a little self consciously aware that you are in an “adult” crowd of people that you may or may not know … and you begin to feel socially challenged.
The first time this happened to me is literally imprinted in my memory. We probably had two small children at the time and likely just pregnant with the third. It was a full-length gown event and a generous drive from Connecticut to New York for a fundraising Gala at the Waldorf Astoria. A timelessly elegant hotel, exquisite place settings, and beautifully prepared food. It was the making of a perfect evening with my husband. It was at that moment that I became so aware that I had become socially awkward.
At a pause in the evening, the crowd had a few moments to walk around and socialize. My sweet friend introduced me to her date – a young, intelligent entrepreneur. And with this introduction, a small talk conversation began. At some point, he began to discuss current events and politics. I remember my very concise and point-blank response, “I don’t know much about those things right now, but I DO know a lot about diapers, time out, and baby food.” And I felt like a weirdo … having to remind myself that I did graduate as valedictorian of my high school; I earned the honor of Summa Cum Laude at LSU; I was smart! But man, I FELT stupid. And, it bothered me.
This was at least 17 years ago. And this still happens. And I am okay with that. I think about this interview with St Mother Teresa of Calcutta. She reminds her audience, that amidst all the current crisis of the world and the Church, her mission is clear and remains the same … serving “the poorest of the poor.” Although I am not serving the poor, this is a good reminder that I am serving those in front of me and around me since these are my “current events.”
And so, I am probably still somewhat socially awkward. It is still a challenge to go from “house full of children” to “happy hour.” I do prepare a little better now though. I keep up with social media just a bit, I watch some football, and I occasionally read news, or in general, I’ll ask friends, or my teenagers (!), “what is going on in the world?” Simply stated … I try.
There’s a Mardi Gras ball to attend this weekend … better get ready!