This weekend, we hosted a potluck dinner for the families in one of my kids' classes. While I am not a particularly social being, I like setting up things, from the arranging of chairs to the welcoming of guests to the organizing of food. When I am hosting, I can be social, but I am glad to have lots of arranging to back me up.
As a parent, you attend lots of these events over the years--birthday
parties, class dinners, school fundraisers--and no matter what the occasion,
it doesn't seem to change. You find yourself watching your kids interact, and can't quite help
interacting with other parents yourself.
What is changing, however, is the conversation. Once upon a time, we
mostly talked about our kids and all their little habits. While that
hasn't completely gone away, I found that this time, with our kids a
little older, we parents were talking more about ourselves. While many
of us still introduced ourselves with the emphasis not on our own names,
but on "_____'s parent," many of us actually seemed to have identities
separate from those of our kids. I spoke to one woman who has gone back
to school for a master's degree, and another who has completely changed
the course of her career. We talked about city parks and computer
networks. It wasn't that we didn't talk about our kids at all. It was
just that we talked about ourselves as well. In a life in which worrying
about my own jobs or fears or aspirations can make me feel that I am
missing or ignoring parts of my kids' lives and needs, this potluck dinner was a
reminder that it's okay to be "_____'s mother" and a grownup. It's okay to
be interested in your own dreams and successes as well as those of your kids.
Another class potluck has come and gone, and I can't say for sure
whether the kids and/or their families really bonded. I can say,
however, that I came away with a belly full of good food, and, more
important, a head full of of new ideas. And that sounds pretty lucky to