Remember back in January and February when I was in full hibernation mode and the kids and I barely left the house? Well, summer is definitely the complete opposite. I love getting out and being active with my hooligans and that’s exactly what we’ve been up to.
Don’t get me wrong. I still like a relaxing day at home. I get a little stressed when I haven’t had the opportunity to take care of standard house chores like laundry, cleaning, bills, etc. but even on those days, it’s nice to go on a walk, check out the garden, play in the creek…
June was busy–as expected. We rode on Thomas the Train, celebrated a family baptism, traveled to Indiana to see family, made numerous pool visits and the garden is coming on in full force. Because of so much activity, summer moves quickly, and with each passing year (and additional child!) I realize how much faster time is flying. The past five years have been so filled with major planned events–weddings, wedding showers, bachelorettes, birthdays, baby showers, holiday gatherings. These things create such a structure to the ‘free time’ we have in life that we just move quickly from one planned event to the next, and time marches onward.
I recently read this article and it really hit home to me, speaking to the idea that a gathering of close people does not have to be about having a “perfect” plan or set up. (Seriously, read the article…) It’s not that I don’t enjoy the planned events, but there is something to be said for the laid-back, carefree gatherings you can have where no major planning is required or expected. As if it isn’t in our nature to fret about how we measure up and may be judged anyway, social media has exploded onto the scene in the last 10 years and only added to that worry. Events have to be perfectly themed and planned. Mess-free and seemingly worry-free–and this includes everything from an elaborate wedding to a simple dinner with friends.
But why is this? My desire to be active and social during these summer months coupled with reading this article helped me put into perspective the example I want to set for my children. Anyone can tell you I love to play hostess and open my doors for family and friends. I bought a “Children’s Party Planning” book at age 9 if that tells you anything. As much as the planning and decorating is fun for me, I get the real thrill out of seeing people I care about come together and find joy. I believe this is what triggers my love of photos and video. I want to capture and remember that joy.
However, between the major, planned events and the feeling that we need to have things “perfect” in order to bring friends into our home, we tend to shy away from casual gatherings.
We don’t want to ask people to contribute food dishes. (Are ‘pot lucks’ socially acceptable?”)
We’re afraid we might not have time to clean well enough in advance. (Is it Instagram worthy??)
We’re afraid we won’t get to prep food and have the mess put away. (Pinterest must have a solution for this!)
We’re afraid our children won’t be on their best behavior. (What if I don’t look like the perfect parent??)
We’re afraid the chosen time and date won’t work for people. (What if I offend someone by planning it when they can’t come?
And we dread the extra clean up afterwards. (Ain’t nobody got time for that!)
Is it about any of that? Should it be?
We spent a weekend in Newburgh, Indiana with family. Jon’s parents were hosting a birthday gathering for his grandma. Most of the family (his dad’s side) lives in the area and were able to come over for a lunch time celebration. His parents made the bulk of the food but others did bring side dishes to contribute. That evening, his mom invited members of her side of the family over for leftovers and to let the little ones run about. It was so great to see so much family and feel relaxed doing so. There was nothing particularly special to do. It was simply about spending time together. Do you ever stop and think about the number of people who you consider close friends or family who live nearby whom you don’t spend much relaxed time with? Hanging out with people shouldn’t be about stressing over how it will transpire; it’s about being in the moment and enjoying the time with people.
I don’t want my kids to grow up with the idea that every get together, gathering or event is elaborate and only for special occasions. I want them to know their aunts, uncles, cousins and friends as people that are welcome and comfortable in our home at all times and people they truly know. I want others to see our home as a place of comfort and relaxation that is always welcoming–even if it comes with a mess or crazy kids.
After reading the article I shared it with my friends and invited them over for a Saturday evening. That day I made some chicken and veggie skewers to grill and threw together a few other things. My mom brought over a salad. People came and went throughout the evening. Dorothy loved having “friends” over. Later a couple of the girls and I whipped up cookie brownies. It was perfectly relaxed and fun.
If life isn’t about nurturing our relationships with each other and sharing in this adventure then I’m not sure what it is about. We are here to help each other and that includes just being together in the most simple, pure and true way so that the most sincere and real versions of ourselves can “just be”. It’s the best way to find both truth and happiness.
With much of the summer still upon us, I challenge you to get together with friends and family on a whim. Invite them to your place or to go out and not because there is a reason, but because nothing is more important in life than the people you share it with.
For a look inside our adventures over the past four weeks, check out my June Vlog!