I am a social introvert trapped in the occasional personality of an extrovert. Simply put, I seem a lot more socially comfortable than I truly am. Being a mother has pushed me to become a hostess because I want to forge social connections with other mothers, and I have found I like creating social traditions.
In my 24 years of mothering, I have given quite a few mom parties. Holiday coffees, end-of-year cocktail parties, first-day-of school lunches. You get the idea.
Is this because I am a naturally comfortable and talented hostess? I wish I could say yes.
I have entertained moms who have crossed my path in carpool, on teams, and at school, because I want to mark this time, these times, that will not be revisited other than in our memories.
Many years ago, I was talking to a friend who lived in another state. She was describing an annual party that her neighbor always threw for other moms the first Friday in December. I thought, “I wish someone would invite me to something like that.” And then I sulked a little bit at the fact that no one was having coffees or cocktail parties, and why weren’t they? When as Oprah would say, I had an, aha moment. If I wanted to get to know other mothers socially, maybe I should start some traditions myself.
Now that my younger child is a high school senior, I am keenly aware of all of these lasts. I’m not ashamed to say that I am struggling with the end of this phase of motherhood. I want to honor everything that I possibly can, as I assume most mothers do. I have read some beautiful essays on this site about the impending empty nest. It’s helped to know that I’m not alone, and that the waves of nostalgia are to be expected. Just as with waves of the Atlantic or Pacific variety, it’s best not to fight them. Earlier this fall, I could feel the swell engulfing me. It’s almost over. That was the last First Day of School. Where did the time go? It’s going to be really weird next year. How do people do it? I stopped fighting, gave in and let the nostalgia lift me up and then put me back on the beach of daily life.
Everyone copes differently with change. I come from a long line of wallowers, so I tend to wallow in the discomfort of an impending change to routine. Then I rally and have moments of healthy thinking like, It’s time for the next phase. This is good. This is what he’s been working towards. But then a nostalgia wave can be seen in the distance and the cycle begins again.
So in the midst of one of these phases, I planned a get together for a group of mothers of seniors. We had all begun our journey together at a parochial school starting in Kindergarten. When that school ended in eighth grade, our students had gone on to a variety of high schools. Some of us hadn’t seen each other since eighth grade graduation. I dug out a few of the elementary and middle school yearbooks for fun. We laughed at the predicted careers our children had chosen themselves. Many tongue-in-cheek I assume given that Shepard and Pope, were among the listed occupations.
We caught up on all the details big and small, and passed our phones around so we could see the inevitable physical changes our children had gone through. The night ended with hugs and promises to stay in touch.
And I know we will – certainly for now – because senior year is not over yet. And there will still be plenty of reasons to party.