I used to feel comforted in the cloak of anonymity that comes with living 700 miles away from home. In the early years of being new to this city, I began to build an identity for myself that was not based on the religious or political views of my parents, family members or first husband. I had the pleasure of seeing life through my eyes. There was not a single person to whom I felt pressured to impress with my style, intelligence or wit. I simply went to work and attempted to provide comfort to my daughter during her emotional grief that came with divorce. Being far from home meant standing up on my own two feet and living life on my terms.
But this post is not about those years...
Anonymity in one's community can be beneficial to the independent souls needing space to develop their identity, belief systems and desires. But after years of standing alone, I realized that I wanted to connect with people in a meaningful way. I made attempts to reach out and make friends, to participate in community events. It took a long time before people would actually accept my offer to participate in things. I was still an anonymous nobody with no connections.
So this year, when Elliot's teacher asked me to be the room parent, I accepted. It is an honor for a nobody like me to be asked to do something! And, even though I'm particularly busy with sales this month thanks to Halloween, I'm finding that I can manage. My to do list now has several columns. I am aware of the potential for burn out, considering what it looks like:
Etsy, Housekeeping, Meals, Laundry, Pets, Yard, Errands, Phone Calls, Email, Patent Drawings (learning CAD), Kitchen Renovation (OMG will it ever be finished???) Mothering, ARF Tulsa Event, Room Parent....
And maybe that looks like light work to most everyone reading. The things I take on keep me busy but they also keep me from sinking into depression. There's just enough things to keep me on the edge of stress without overwhelming me. I'm discovering that balancing one's life between self nurture such as taking time to enjoy lovely walks in the woods, fires in the hearth, or running at the gym with community activities is an art. To do this well, one really needs to know what they enjoy. For example, I care about the hungry but despise working in industrial sized kitchens after my stint as a lunch lady. So, you won't find me in the soup kitchen. But I do love to create things that are fun for kids. Instead of a craft, this year's fall party for 18 first graders is going be like a mini festival with activity stations. We'll have something for everyone, including:
A Mr. and Mrs. Pumpkin Head station, where students dress up pumpkins like Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head. We will add extra pumpkins for kids and pets. We might even make salt dough so they can form their own ears, noses and lips to attach with toothpicks. We'll have a box filled yarn wigs, hats, silly glasses and markers. Parents can take pictures of their finished creations.
A Cooking Station, where students are taught how to make their own flavored microwave popcorn from scratch using paper bags and regular popping corn. We have been experimenting at home with great success. I'll have to devote a post to this process as we perfect our recipes.
A Theater, with poems, stories, puppets and props.
The kids will direct and organize their own productions.
A Story Telling Station. This will be a great way to have a little break from all the activity. I might have to bring a pillow and listen to one when I start to freak out from all the busy stuff going on!
A Face Painting station. I'll be making a little sample board for the kids to choose their images. This is challenging given the fact that we are pretending that we are not celebrating Halloween.
So, if you happened to knock on my door today, you might have to clear a space to sit down. We've got multiple projects going on at once. I used to worry if things were out of place and get all out of sorts when too much was going on at once. I think its a sign that I've become a happier, more flexible, active and social person, now that I can enjoy and embrace the chaos of a fuller, more vibrant life.