Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Crockpot Insecurities

Sam is attending a cub scout party this evening. The invite asked for families to "bring a dish or snack" to share. What to make? Tiny pigs in a blanket--of course!

"This will be perfect", I reasoned. "I'll just bake them and pop them into the crockpot to keep warm." Then I looked at my crockpot-- I mean really looked at it. I noticed the long brown, splotchy drip on one side that refused to scrub off and lots of brownish flecks. As I scraped my thumbnail on the brown spots and then attempted to remove them with the magic eraser, I realized that was where the painted enamel surface had chipped off. One of the small plastic legs had broken off and been reglued on. Did I mention it was a wedding gift from 14 years ago? If I ever finish with it, it won't be nice enough to donate to someone in need. The poor won't want it-- only a lower middle class family like ours would be crazy enough to keep using it.

If this was a gathering with my friends, I would throw those pigs into that crockpot and not give it a second thought. But this isn't a gathering of people I am familiar with. And the host has a really nice house-- probably one without a reject crockpot in sight.

Long story short? Part of me wants the snack to go into a sparkling white Corningware dish with foil and send it on with my husband to scouts with Sam. The Corningware could let me "hide": I could appear to use only dishes that look brand new, instead of weary from 14 years of my learning how to cook. I could avoid new people, evade having to figure out whether or not the group is one I can begin to fit into, whether or not they use the "R" word or have exotic food allergies. It's easy to be me with my friends, even with some aquaintances. But it's scary to just let it all hang out there when it's someone I don't know well who looks like they have it all together.

But I am not using Corningware tonight. I am sending my crockpot. The pigs in a blanket look perfect and my choice to forgo vanity may save them from eating pork kept at too low of a temperature-- thus saving them from food poisioning.

I am good enough. And doggone it-- so is my crockpot.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Letting Go

Friendships are a tricky thing. One begins with great promise, can even sustain and last a few years and then go a completely different direction. Holidays and birthdays can make me think-- and let my mind wander places I wouldn't normally pause and travel to.

I hate change. It is uncomfortable, scary and unfamiliar. Change tends to have hazy nooks and crannies that aren't clearly marked and can only be experienced. There is something about Facebook that makes it too easy to see these changes. Who did I spend time with in 2010? Chances are I still spend time with the majority of those people, but a few have stepped aside and now spend time elsewhere.

Friendships change because people change-- and that can be difficult for me to accept. Lately I have been thinking about a friendship and realizing that this person does not call or contact me anymore-- I just contact them. I don't want to turn it into the downward spiralled drama of "Well.... I'll just see how long it takes her to notice and call me" but as I have stopped making regular efforts, she hasn't noticed. She hasn't called. To quote a wiser person, "She's just not that into you".

Part of that makes my stomach hurt. But the realist in me looks at the birthday cards lined up on the counter and feels reassurance.

Can I just accept this relationship for what it is? If she calls, great, and if not, that's okay? I'm trying. I really am. But I want the clearly defined lines. I want to know WHY. And yet I don't want to know why, because what if it really is me?

I suspect the "why" could be the busyness of life. We are busy in different directions, with different people in completely different ways. So for tonight I want to accept that it is different, but not necessarily over. But that is still hard for me because it is so different from what it was.

This whole soupy mess of emotions makes me feel grateful for the ones in my life who are a constant: the ones who show up, the ones who call, the ones who write. The friend who is ever forgiving and will meet for muffins on a weekday. The one who delivers balloons and chocolates on my birthday. The one who sits by me at church and shares her heart and lets me hold her baby. The one who stood beside me in a church 14 years ago and promised to stay my best friend no matter what. Give me three good friends and I am set. Long story short, I think I might be down one, but I am still up three :o)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Rainbow Card

While cleaning out the junk pencil drawer, a small piece of cardstock was wedged against the back of the drawer. I tugged it loose, turned it over and saw a crayon rainbow was drawn on one side. It was the elusive rainbow card.

Holding that card in my hand jettisoned me back to the pre-school days: my little people at home all day and lots of time to play board games. Sam loved playing Candyland, but without fail it would turn into some sort of playland purgatory as one of us would near the end of the colored snake. "This is it!" I would think in triumph. "Now I can finally get up and start the load of laundry", only to pull a card for Plumpy or Mr. Mint, hurtling me near the starting point yet again. I never felt the release to quit-- what if I raised a son who is a quitter? So on we would go. And on and on and on.

I began to dread that game. Who wants 45 minutes of Candyland action? No one. (If anyone claims they would like to play that game with their child for longer than 20 minutes, they are lieing). Finally I decided to give myself an out and designed a rainbow card. Oh the joy! Whoever pulled the rainbow card would win, instantly. No more issues of Mommy having to stack the deck-- we could finally play an honest game of Candyland without dread.

The kids were fine with the new rainbow card rule of play and I had given myself breathing room. It was something so small, but it made a difference in my day. That rainbow card bought me more time than I had ever realized was for sale. On cleaning day, I held the little card in my palm and wondered how often do we as parents give ourselves permission to make a rainbow card?

What do you need to simplify or allow as a margin for yourself? Sometimes we get stuck in how we think the ideal should be and the reality becomes difficult in the process. Speaking as a mom, it is hard to do less or trim edges. I tend to grab at the thorny edged "All or nothing" shelf and refuse to see the rest of the options.

Grab a box of crayons and draw yourself a rainbow card and get prepared to use it. I promise you'll start to enjoy the game if you do.