Kidling has been invited to a birthday party this weekend. It’s a themed thing, and all the parents are invited, too. Some sort of BBQ on a lake.
Unfortunately, John is working the day of the party. I’ve committed to taking Kidling, but I’m pretty nervous about it. Normally at large group gatherings, I rely on cigarettes or John to absent myself temporarily when I need to take a break from people and recharge mentally. I won’t have either of those here; one because I quit and the other because he’s working.
I think this is possibly the first time I’ve ever gone to an unfamiliar social setting without a companion. I mean, clearly I’ve entered unfamiliar situations with a social aspect before without a companion — a new ward, starting college, job interviews, first days at jobs — all of those have a social aspect to them, but the socialization is secondary. The situation itself is structured, with a purpose all laid out.
At a job or in the classroom or something like that, it doesn’t matter if I don’t hit it off with my co-workers/ classmates. There is a reason I’m in the environment, and generally surface politeness will skate one by in work or education situations. You don’t need to find a common conversational ground; just talk about work or school.
But the purpose and structure of a party is socialization, and I think that’s what’s making this so stressful for me. If I say or do something wrong, or give the wrong impression with my clothing/ make-up/ hair, or babble because I’m nervous, or crack a joke that falls flat, or arrive and realize everyone is completely opposite from me on the religious and political spectrums, and I’m the lone heathen in the lion’s den . . . I’m still stuck there. Because this is for my son, not me, and I’ve put up with some pretty horrible people because the people I love were inexplicably fond of them. I’m not going to tear my son away from a fun, friend-filled birthday party just because I feel weird about lingering by the punch table for a few hours. The things I do for (maternal) love.

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