Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Being a Parent + Making New Friends = Awkward

*It's Day 8 of the 31 Day Writing Challenge, which is why I'm still talking about intentional community. (-; If you're interested in reading previous posts and maybe even following along for the rest of the series, check that out here: 31 Days of Intentional Community

There's a new couple at our church. We like them. I think they'd be a great addition to our community group. The only catch is, it's hard to actually have a real, live conversation with them at any point because there are small people hanging off of us at all times. At. All. Times. We are human jungle gyms. The end.

But, wait. Surely, making new friends and possibly inviting them into our community can still happen despite our total inability to focus during conversations or make eye contact or finish a sentence. Right?

I wonder sometimes about this. Most people I meet are meeting a version of me that is so different from what I consider to be the REAL ME. The current version of me struggles to think about things unrelated to juice boxes, cartoons, diaper changes and naptime. If you have procreated in the last twenty years, I'm guessing you know something about this mental block.

The aforementioned couple at church don't have any children. That's about to change in a month or so but for now, they are calm and cool and collected. Their shirts are tucked in and their hair is in place and they don't have peanut butter fingerprints on their pants. No one's tried to hand them a booger in the last five minutes. They haven't endured mind-numbing episodes of Thomas the Train on repeat. And because of this, I find myself hesitant to approach them sometimes. My ability to form complete thoughts much less complete sentences in public is at an all time low. I have very little to talk about that can't be related to PBS children's programming. What do I have to offer to anyone in any sort of valuable relational way right now?

These are the thoughts that run through my mind two seconds before I meet someone new. It's a problem.

BUT, sometimes, I push through. And despite the child on my hip chewing on my hair or the other child who just raced by me as he let out a loud, warlike whoop, I chance it and say hi. It's hard. I feel awkward, but suddenly it's happening and I'm in conversation. And, it's good.

When I was single and attending a huge church in Knoxville, Tennessee by myself, I remember wishing that some family would approach me and make conversation with me and maybe even invite me over for lunch in the midst of their chaotic, crazy, kid-filled Sunday afternoon. That never happened and on the flip side of that experience, I'm a lot more understanding of why that was. But, I want to do things differently. Despite my insecurity and despite my hesitance to invite people into the crazytown that is having a family that includes small, high-on-life little people.

I'm not sure if we've made that couple at church a little afraid of having children now that they've seen the weariness and the wildness and the intensity of parenting up close and personal when we walk up to say hello on Sunday morning. We might have.

But, even in the midst of this season of raising our small ones, we can still invite people in and hopefully give them glimpses at times of the incredibly good parts of parenting. Who knows. It might be exactly what they need right now.

Waiting until we have it together before we invite people into community with us means it probably won't ever happen.

So, set the juice cup down, move your kid to the other hip, and hold out a Cheerio-scented hand to that person you haven't met yet. I'm pretty sure they won't even notice you smell like peanut butter.

I may or not be wearing a Thomas the Train conductor's hat here. 

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