My friend Tia did this braid. You can tell, because it’s good.
I have always loved entertaining. More than that, I love being a hostess: making my house look pretty, thinking up cute serving ideas, refilling drinks before glasses are empty. Telling my guests to sit down, have fun, don’t you dare touch those dishes, I’ve got it. I know it might sound odd, but I love it; I really do. It makes me feel good to create a space where where they can feel good. And since we’ve moved here, summertime has basically been all-entertaining, all the time, because, you know: pool. Which is great, right?! Parties! BBQs! All the festive things!!
Except I can’t right now.
I just can’t. I’m stretched to my personal limit, and the parts that are non-negotiable are the kids and the job and – yes – the self-care (yogaaaa), and so something has to bend.
The idea of remembering to buy guacamole ingredients (and then using them to actually make guacamole), or setting out buckets of assorted sodas within easy reach of lounge chairs, or making sure the house is all lovely and sparkling so I can feel all proud and show-offy about it…it honestly feels ridiculous at this point.
Maybe it always was.
But I still want to see my friends. I need to, in fact. I still want them to feel good when they’re at my house, like they’re welcome, almost like it’s their house too; that’s so important to me.
So: My solution? I have decided that I officially, categorically, am Not Going to Be Entertaining Right Now. By “entertaining” I mean, of course, my kind of entertaining, which is an entirely different beast than simply “having friends over.” My friends are still coming over – thank god – but I’m ordering pizzas instead of making them from scratch. I’m scrounging in the freezer for something to throw on the grill, and I don’t give one shit if that salmon doesn’t have fresh lemon slices to accompany it; if what happens at the end is that people have been fed, that feels like a win to me.
And the biggest change of all: When I am offered help, I will accept it.
I will even ask for it if I need it. (Imagine.)
A few days ago Erin was coming over with her kids to swim, and she called me from Costco to ask if I wanted her to pick up anything to cook for dinner. Old Me would have said oh no, no, just bring yourself! But instead I said yes.
After dinner, I started cleaning up the disaster that the children had created in the garage (let’s toss all of mom’s photo albums out of the loft, WHEEEE), and Erin started washing the dishes. I opened my mouth to be all no, don’t you dare! but I couldn’t even get it out, because she saw me coming, and then whirled on me, gave me her very best third-grade teacher face (which is intimidating, to say the least), and told me to not. say. a word.
A couple of weeks ago my friend Tia emailed me asking how I was doing, whether I needed help, or just company. She offered to fly out for a few days.
I started to say no, no, you have your life, I’m fine, don’t…but instead I said yes.
I can hear her in the other room at this very moment; she’s sitting on the floor and playing Eye Found It! with my kids so I can hop on a conference call. I cannot believe I’m not jumping up to tell her not to worry, entertaining my kids isn’t your job, go relax! – but I’m not.
…And I think that’s maybe…okay?
What a crazy thing to discover this late in life: that it’s okay to accept help. And not only in extreme situations – just kind of…when you need it.
From this vantage point, the very thought of doing things the way I always have doesn’t just sound exhausting and unnecessary – it’s practically laughable, the amount of energy I spent on things I did just to make myself feel like the person that no one thought I should be except me.
So maybe there are a few more things I can take away from this time. The knowledge that as much as I want to care for my friends, they want to give that care right back.
The willingness to accept help when it’s offered, and ask for it even when it isn’t.
And – finally, most importantly, there’s the one that I hope stays with me forever: The realization that yes, there are plenty of things that matter in life…
But oh god, there are so many others that you can just let go.