I used to stress out over having dinner parties, birthday parties, gatherings in our home.
Now, I refuse to sponsor events in my home.
I protect our home as a sanctuary.
For years, the church told me that I must be ever ready for hospitality. I believed that – a little too much perhaps.
I wanted to be a good wife and mother. I thought that included planning and having parties.
I remember my mother having my birthday parties in our home. I’m an only child. My aunts and cousins and some school and neighborhood friends would come. My father was always on a business trip. My mom planned it every year while he was away.
I remember going to my aunt’s house for every holiday. It was festive and exciting. The decorations made it special – because my aunt went all out and it was just gorgeous. The foods and punch were only available those wonderful moments each year so I looked forward to them even more. My father stayed home alone every single year. My mom and his mother and I would go.
As a military family, we never got to experience holidays with family. We’ve always lived hours – or even oceans away.
When we planned our own little family holiday dinners, I was so stressed about making everything perfect that I would make myself physically ill. Every holiday, I would burst into tears because something wasn’t just right at dinner. The wine was spilled. The meat wasn’t cooked just right. I would forget something important, like cranberry sauce. But, I had no help. My kids were babies. My husband stayed out of the way while I worked myself into a frenzy. My mother had my two grandmothers for help and I just don’t think they really cared all that much about the details.
My kids are teens now and we cook together like a symphony.
I feel like a really horrible mom about not having birthday parties for my kids, but we bought all the themed decorations and I baked cupcakes and planned games…and no one showed up. Like, no one showed up for an entire year for my kids. No one RSVP’ed and no one came at all. We sat around as a family, staring at the cupcakes and snacks, until I went to the bathroom and cried because I realized what was happening. Then we turned on music and had our little family party.
I stopped planning my kids’ birthday parties about ten years ago.
After that year, we did everything almost the same for birthdays, but we invited no one. It’s not about getting lots of presents. It’s about celebrating my people.
My kids don’t get invited anywhere either because we homeschool and don’t go to church anymore and we just don’t have any one.
The people we thought were our friends promptly forgot about us the moment we moved away. We were even unfriended on social media. This was before I even knew what ghosting was. I’m still hurt by the lack of closure. Did I say or do something to offend? Did my kids hurt the other kids’ feelings? Did my husband upset someone? We will never know.
It was hard to socialize with my husband’s coworkers because we were often admonished for intermingling with different ranks. Even now that he’s retired and working at a local hospital, work events take place at work, so families aren’t involved.
The quarantine with COVID thankfully didn’t affect us all that much, but we’re even more isolated now. There is a gap in my son’s experiences since he has aged out of most the homeschool classes his siblings got to take. All the extracurricular activities were closed during COVID and now it’s too late for him at almost age thirteen.
My kids used to play in the neighborhood with a couple kids, but no one was ever allowed inside houses, and that’s so strange to me who grew up in the 1980’s and we were everywhere all at once. My kids lost the few acquaintances they had in the neighborhood the last year because they’re from ultra conservative families who were antivax and told us my trans kid is going to hell. My kids chose not to compromise.
I used to dream of being that house all the kids congregated at – with cookies and snacks and safety. No one over the age of ten is outside anymore. Kids are kept in classes, planned activities, rec sports, school-related extracurriculars. They have no time anymore. They have no freedom.
In Utah and Ohio, we invited people from church for celebrations and a few times it even turned out ok. I’ve been criticized by not having my kids more involved or cutting corners with store-bought cookie dough. But even when people brought a side dish, it was so very expensive hosting. I even learned how to make fun and delicious vegan dishes for the vegan pastor’s family.
It’s amazing how quickly turn against you when you begin questioning sexism and racism and capitalism in the church. We were only as valuable as we were available to work harder and spend our own money on entertaining the church. I was told to have a nice life as a dismissal. So, that chapter is closed in our book.
“Don’t leave the church because of the people who hurt you. Nobody is perfect, only God.” I’ll explain why this comment is not only not helpful at all, but also very harmful.Jo Leuhmann
I tried to be kind to my eldest child’s friends. I invited her people over for dinner a couple times, but it’s stressful on my younger kids to feel they have to perform.
Now it’s about keeping us safe from antivaxxers.
Yes, I realize I sound whiny. But to constantly beat my head against brick walls eventually gets tiresome. We’ve been hurt and ignored and abused for so many years that it’s really hard to keep trying. I refuse to stay where I am not appreciated or celebrated. I would rather be alone. I would rather save my energy.
We desperately tried to be hospitable over the years.
My home is safe and a sanctuary from the world. I want my kids to feel safe inside our home and not hypervigilant against someone who might pose a health danger.
My introverted self is safer and happier alone in my home with my cats and my kids.
We don’t need Bible verses spouted in hate admonishing us to try harder.
Books That Have Helped Me:
- Gabor Maté
- John Gottman
- Harriet Lerner
- Susan Cain
- Elaine N. Aron
- The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk
- Jesus, the Gentle Parent by LR Knost
- Motherwhelmed by Beth Berry
- Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: How to Heal from Distant, Rejecting, or Self-Involved Parents by Lindsay C. Gibson
You might also like:
- I Tried Therapy
- Grieving Family Who Are Still Alive
- Toxic Positivity
- Teaching Kids About Healthy Relationships
- Introvert Holiday Survival Guide
- What If I Don’t Have Friends?
Linking up: Pinch of Joy, Create with Joy, Suburbia, Random Musings, Homestead, Eclectic Red Barn, God’s Growing Garden, Jenerally Informed, InstaEncouragements, OMHG, Artful Mom, Life Beyond Kitchen, Slices of Life, Joanne Viola, Soaring with Him, Fluster Buster, Ridge Haven, Answer is Choco, Lisa Notes, Pieced Pastimes, Being a Wordsmith, LouLou Girls,
Lisa notes says
You’ve been through more than your fair share of traumatic things, Jennifer. I’m sorry and wish better experiences for you in the future, even though it can’t remove the pain of the past. You’re wise to listen to your gut in this season to do what is protective for you and your family.
I’m currently reading Gabor Maté’s, “The Myth of Normal” and finding it fascinating.
Jennifer Lambert says
oooh, that book is soooo good! I wish more people would wake up and realize what society is doing to us, but they just want their comfort zones.