Tuesday, October 23, 2012

When did this Monday become a Tuesday? And an invitation to dinner.

Last week was a really good one, for more reasons than I can list. Alyce made me her usual 2397 drawings (do you like my new bookmark?), I attended my first crazy intense parent council meeting at her new school, and waited (and am still waiting) with a good friend as she enters the final week(s) of her pregnancy. I'm extra excited because I have a special invitation to attend her birth as her doula. We ate mac and cheese and cookies, because isn't that what one does in preparation for labour? That's what I do, anyway, and I will encourage you to, as well. I might tell you that preparing for my friend's birth is also the reason behind all the muffins I've been baking, but that would be stretching the truth a bit, because we all know that I'll use any and all excuses to make muffins. This week I made these apple muffins from Smitten Kitchen (I grated the apples instead of dicing on account of not wanting to offend Alyce's fine sensibilities) and these lemon millet muffins from 101 Cookbooks (you can leave out the lemon and add chocolate chips if you like, which I often do, but the lemon is almost as delicious). Both were hits and both are gone.

My weeks are always filled with so much and trying to balance it all can be a bit overwhelming. The days have been so busy that I started this post eagerly on a Monday morning and am finishing it now on a Tuesday close to lunch. Where did yesterday go? Can I tell you a quick story that might let you in on the status of a mind pulled in a few one hundred different directions? I drove the girls across town yesterday for Alyce's medical appointment, and then rushed them back home to spend the afternoon with a friend so that I could drive all the way back across town for my own appointment . As I stood in front of the nurse at the front desk, panting and not a little bit sweaty from all the rushing, she informed me, kindly, that my appointment was for the 22nd of November. Yesterday was the 22nd of October. Not the same month, it turns out. I handled the disappointment quite well and made the most of the rest of my afternoon. While an overwhelmed mind sometimes leads to crying at the first sign of a struggle, it can also jump to the next task without too much concern. Appointment doesn't exist? No matter, I can do those other twelve things I need to finish today.

What I'm trying to tell you is that I'm busy but happy. All the projects I'm finally getting to are helping me to feel more and more settled. I've mentioned a few times here that adjusting to living in Toronto again hasn't always been easy. I am grateful to be back, but I'm learning that nothing is simple. It isn't as easy as dropping back into a former life. We have new habits, new routines, new obligations, new children. Our friends, at least the ones who are still here, have welcomed us back, but they have busy lives, too. Something that I've been giving a lot of thought to since returning to Toronto is how difficult it can be to maintain community as we grow older. My entire life has been marked by relationships with exceptional friends and I'm learning that growing older means more and more work to maintain these friendships. It isn't for lack of caring or love that we see our friends less, but the way in which our own families drive our busy days, weeks, and months. Most of us have partners and families and careers and projects and it's a wonder that we ever just find the time to sit together, with friends, to enjoy it all happening. But I think we should fight the good fight against this tendency to collapse into our own families. I think we should all take little steps to stay connected with the people we are lucky enough to have in our lives. And maybe we should meet a few more.

We celebrate Shabbat every week beginning Friday night. Shabbat means different things to different people, but one of my most favourite things in the world is knowing that every Friday night, no matter what is going on in the rest of our chaos, Matt and I have a chance to sit down for a dinner, some wine, and hopefully some excellent company. As the day comes to a close at the end of week I can feel my entire body calming down, in spite of my rushing around the kitchen preparing dinner. Sometimes we include the girls in a big dinner; other times Alyce and Shira help me light the candles but Matt and I save dinner for later in the (quieter) evening. Some of my favourite nights are those when friends join us for dinner. And so here comes my challenge: why aren't we sharing meals friends more often? Why aren't we inviting new friends to our tables? I am going to invite friends (both old and new) to our table for dinner or lunch three weekends out of four. I can't promise they'll say yes, but I am going to send out my invitations nonetheless. I hope we can make it an offer they won't refuse. Busy weeks be damned.

I'm looking forward to dinner already.


  1. I hope your friends say yes, we love going to friends for dinner or having them come to ours. It's our only nights our these days!

  2. The other thing I find challenging about maintaining friendships in the context of children is that very often my social life is overdetermined by the children's social lives -- I end up spending time with some people more often than others because it is easier to integrate my kid in some scenarios (ie. when the friend also has kids of a similar age and interests). When my friends have no kids, or kids of very different ages, it becomes more difficult. Sad but true.

    Did I mention the time that I went to the KFC at the mall here in Sudbury and ordered one of their (delicious) vegetarian chicken sandwiches, and the cashier informed me that they no longer carried it. I asked whether she meant they no longer carried it at that location or anywhere; she told me she thought it was everywhere (she was wrong), and I very nearly broke down in tears right there. I managed not to blubber completely, but my voice broke on me and I was literally on the verge of bawling. She took pity on me and gave me a free drink. I don't know why, but your October/November doctor's office story made me think of that.