The twins were in the back and the almost two year old was playing with something so I whispered to myself aloud:
“I am going to this play date so that my kids can make friends and wear themselves out. If no one speaks to me other than a cursory hello, it is okay. I am going so that the kids have a good time and maybe take a nap. This isn’t about me.”
It was a line that I had practiced a many times after being hurt so many times from feeling ignored in what seemed like the only places to meet and make mom friends. I don’t do small talk well. I’m messy and real like a velveteen rabbit. I wipe my kids snotty noses with a dirty sock I find on the floorboard of the car because I always forget wipes. I’m late. I forget to wear make up and I may smell a bit off from not finding time to shower. When you look in the dictionary for the definition of “Hot Mess Mama”, you’ll see my picture.
When I’m an introvert mama out of the house among real grown people, I want only one thing: to have real meaningful conversations and know that I am not alone.
Play dates were not meeting this need, but I knew no other way to meet people. So I told myself I was going to wear out the kids and lowered my expectations.
To be honest, I had only agreed to that play date because another mom who was truly my friend had said she was going too. I was relieved to see her when I arrived and we chatted together a bit in between the small talk greetings from the other moms who went back to their groups and proceeded (like us) to semi-ignore everyone else assuming that we were all taken care of.
Out of the corner of my eye on this day, I saw this new mama. She asked if we were there with the church play date and I replied affirmatively. She darted off to capture a 2 year old hanging precariously off the edge. “I’m Ginger!” She said when she returned, only to dart off again to capture her almost 3 year old. I had begun to have to do my own darting as my 4 year olds and almost 2 year old begin the slow spiral toward nap time tantrums.
Suddenly, I started to see Ginger’s picture next to mine in the dictionary under a new entry title: “Hot mess mamas looking for real friendships.”
I stopped a moment with my arms full of crazy. And over the din of children melting down we had a quick conversation about how we hated these play dates and always felt like we were never going to make friends. We confessed that the church play groups felt a lot like middle school cliques to us. Middle school cliques who seemed to consistently put us at the “doesn’t fit in” table.
We exchanged numbers and Facebook profiles and scheduled a more intimate play date at her house. Together we worked toward a new dictionary definition “Hot mess mamas doing life together.”
We have a lot in common: young kids the same age, backgrounds that aren’t 100% church-friendly, and we both run businesses right smack dab in the middle of our stay-at-home mommy messes. And we might not admit it to your faces, but we are hard core video gamers with our husbands when time and energy allows.
I was glad that I took a moment that day to stop and notice a friend. I was glad I saw someone who wanted real meaningful conversations and needed to know that she wasn’t alone. But that day still haunts me in a way. What if I had just kept talking to my friend and being just as clique-y as the rest of them?
How do I create space for people as a hot mess mama introvert? How can I practice reluctant hospitality? (<====Click to Tweet)
Ginger may be a hot mess mama, but she isn’t my clone. She’s gifted at keeping a tidy organized house. And she’s an extrovert (a quality I sometimes beg God to give me). Hospitality is a place where she naturally shines. She’s come into her own at creating spaces for people to thrive. The other night this was her Facebook Status.
Of course we went!
Let me get real with you for a second: we are living on the sub flooring in our living/dining room because I couldn’t stand the filthy carpet one second longer and tore it up before we had saved the money to replace it (see image above). 90% of the furniture in our house was either given to us or picked up on the side of the road. I mopped the kitchen two times in one week last month and then gave up because it’s spring and all the mud they were tracking in would require daily mopping and, as a work from home mama, I don’t have time for that. My kids wear stained clothing because they play hard and I’m not awesome at laundry. The laundry is taking over my office as I steal these moments to write. I keep waiting for the Lord to provide my business enough work for me to be able to hire a house cleaner once a week :-p
Today while my kids stuck their noses in Winnie the Pooh video games on the library computers I had a moment to browse The Reluctant Entertainer by Sandy Coughlin. My breath caught in my throat when I read the following words:
The best thing I ever did in fighting perfectionism was to surround myself with imperfect people. I found friends with messy houses, dirty toilets, unorganized closets and cupboards, and better yet, imperfect kids. I became healthier and more courageous to be myself when I realized that we’re all real people living imperfect lives…
Once you experience freedom from perfectionism, you’ll find it’s much easier to enjoy a simpler approach to entertaining…You may even find yourself redefining what entertaining means to you. (Sandy Coughlin)
Hospitality has been a burden to me because I suffer from perfectionism. I care too much what people think of me or my house or my messy life to be real with people until I see their own mess. But people have let me in to their own messy lives: Ginger, Danielle, Mandolyn, Amy, Chelle, Anna, Mandy, Joni, Jessica, Connie, and others. That was the true hospitality, not the moments I was invited over into their spaces.
Hospitality is simply inviting others to do life with us right in the middle of our messy, incomplete God-sized dreams. (<====Click To Tweet)
I’m learning to let go. I’m learning to have people over for sticky s’mores and laugh at tantrum-ing toddlers up past their bedtimes. I’m learning to care a little less when I invite someone over who seems appalled by my messiness and never comes back again: they didn’t need or want my type of friendship and that’s okay. I’m here if or when they do want messy velveteen real. I’m learning that board games around the table with a bottle of wine or French press of coffee and 10 children watching How to Train your Dragon 2 on the living room floor are the spaces were hope is found. I’m learning that’s it’s okay that I’m a hot mess with three kids 5 and under running a business and sort of feeling alone.
I’m only truly alone when I try to manage my image and appear perfect.
Are you learning that too? That true hospitality is really just seeing another person and whispering, “Me too.”
Great! Bring over some of your favorite pizza and salad toppings. I’ll have lettuce, sauce, cheese, pitas, and dressings ready for pita pizza/salad bar night. The kids will bounce on the trampoline or ride bikes in the driveway and we’ll steal snatches of real as the Lord leads right here on my sub-flooring.
Shared By: Melissa Aldrich