Large parties are rife with what I call “fringe friends” — strangers, distant family, or people you don’t know intimately. You might get invited to (or asked to organize) a wedding, reunion, baby shower, barbecue, work function, or camping trip. If you’re shy, this can be a source of anxiety instead of fun. Large parties prove difficult for those who are shy, and are a true challenge for the introverted host.
Here’s what has worked for me when hosting and socially navigating large parties.
A few weeks ago, my daughter Charlotte hit her friend at the park. Twice. With a stick. I was mortified. I knelt down to her level, grabbed her hands, and asked her to look at my eyes, please. She looked at the sky, at the bushes, at her feet, but refused to look at me. “Charlotte,” I repeated. “I need you to look at me please.”
Throughout my pregnancy I’d sit with my friends, often at a bar, sipping Orange Juice and Seven-Up and suspiciously eyeing my other female friends who weren’t drinking. I hopefully watched drinking patterns to see whether or not I could “score” a maternity leave buddy for at least part of my year as a stay at home mom. Although I have many close friends who often act as designated driver no one was pregnant while I was, and at this point no one will have more than a few weeks of overlap time at home with me unless they are very cleverly hiding five months of pregnancy. I have a handful of mom friends who are at home right now, but they all live outside of the city and on average are a fifty-three minute drive away.
It began with a simple question at the grocery store last night. We were choosing all the pieces for Schuyler’s lunch and were trying to change things up a little. We wanted to get her some new drinks but were unsure if she would be able to open the bottles. Schuyler’s polymicrogyria has some big features and some small ones, and one of its less frightening but still annoying impairments involves her fine motor skills. We asked her if she thought she would be able to open the bottle. She said she thought so, but still seemed a little unsure.
Offbeat Bride ran a piece last month that touched on an interesting phenomenon: with social media usage so prevalent, we now have to deal with how our friends will discuss out parties online. More specifically, how people who were invited to an event or party will talk about it after it happens, and how people who weren’t invited will react. This can either be awesome, and people don’t really think it’s a big deal that they weren’t invited, or… it can suck.
My four-year-old has a new friend that I’m not the biggest fan of. The friend’s behavior (being destructive, kicking, hitting) isn’t my favorite. My daughter has also started acting out to get a laugh from her friend. The trouble is my daughter ADORES her friend — she talks about her at home, wants her to come over all the time, have sleepovers, etc.
My partner and I are considering having children sometime in the next few years, but the question of “community” has been holding us back. We both grew up in religious households but we are pretty much agnostic. However, we both know how powerful that supporting community can be.
Like many twentysomething parents-to-be, my friends can be put into one of two categories: those who are absolutely thrilled to hear I’m pregnant and want to know every last detail, and those who are quite frankly tired of seeing nothing but babies and wedding photos on Facebook. And despite being a recently-married mama-to-be, I understand where they’re coming from.