This past Saturday, I was blessed to attend a Blessed Brunch (facilitated through Blessed Is She -- and if you're not signed up for the daily devotionals, you should be!) hosted by the lovely Mary Lenaburg. I have been a reader of Mary's blog for a while, so getting to meet her was a real treat for me. And finding out that we're neighbors was an even bigger treat!
I have to tell you: going to this sort of event is way outside of my comfort zone. I tend to project a confidence in groups, and I know I seem so outgoing... But I'm actually quite shy. I love new people, but I make them approach me first. And thanks to a vicious case of bitchy resting face (I kind of hate that term, but I haven't ever heard a better one to describe just how unpleasant I apparently look from a distance!), people rarely approach me.
When I saw that Blessed Is She was encouraging these Blessed Brunches all around the country, and that one was being held in my town, I was still hesitant. After all, Fairfax is enormous and getting from one side to the other can easily be forty minutes in the car. And I have a nursing baby, who wouldn't do well in that sort of environment, during naptime, mostly because he only nurses well in the quiet now and he absolutely refuses to sleep in public.
And and and, excuse excuse excuse.
Something made me go back and look at the list of upcoming brunches again. I realized that the fact that there was one even potentially up to forty minutes (or an hour, depending on the DC metro area's infamously awful traffic) from home was close, compared to the opportunities for ladies in some parts of the country. On the same night, while browsing Pinterest, a "suggested pin" popped up: "How to make friends as an adult." AND THEN, the next morning, I happened to be reading a blog I've never read before and saw a picture of a book entitled Women Are Scary: The Totally Awkward Adventure of Finding Mom Friends. Around the same time, I saw that Mary had posted on the Blessed Is She Facebook group some more details about the brunch she was hosting, and I realized that her house would not be forty minutes away. More like five.
And I said, "All RIGHT, God, I get it." I RSVP'd immediately.
I have almost no friends from high school or college who are Catholic. In fact, I have almost no friends from high school or college who are not hostile to religion -- the curse of being a scientist and having friends who are scientists. I work from home and thus don't have that many opportunities to meet new people. My best friend, who's both Catholic and a mother to littles, moved to Texas before my children were born. My family is all in Pennsylvania, which is not very far from Northern Virginia but is also not around the corner.
I have felt like I've been parenting -- and Catholic-ing -- in a vacuum. I'm involved in the music ministry at my parish, but the ages skew significantly older, and anyway since Declan was born I've been unable to attend choir practice because it falls exactly at bedtime. Someday he'll be done nursing and I'll be freer to move about in the evenings, and I'm simultaneously looking forward to and dreading that time. For the time being, my life is work, and weeknight dinners as a family, and time spent with the kids before they go to bed, and family time on the weekends.
Most of the time, I don't even notice that I haven't had a social life in years. But when I do notice, it hits me like a ton of bricks.
So there I was, scared to death, on a beautiful Saturday morning, on Mary's back deck with 20+ strangers who ceased to be strangers immediately. Everyone brought something to share -- and, of course, there was enough food for four times as many women! -- and Mary provided a beautiful spread, coffee, tea, and some cold beverages. Mary's husband (who is a saint for letting everyone invade!) led us in an opening prayer. Everyone filled their plates and chatted while we chowed down. Then we went around the table and introduced ourselves to the group. After that, we had a free-flowing group discussion about community. I may have openly wept. (Okay, I definitely openly wept.)
It's such a blessing to meet so many like-minded women of faith! I had to be the first one to leave, after getting an SOS text message from Michael (poor Declan was late for his nap and completely over waiting for Mommy to come home and nurse him!), but I could otherwise have stayed indefinitely, getting to know more of the ladies better and filling up my soul. I didn't get any pictures myself, so you'll have to check out the hashtag we designated on Instagram (#blessedbrunchfx). There are only a couple because everyone was too busy bonding to do much documentation.
Thank you, thank you, thank you to Mary for hosting, and to Blessed Is She for making it possible.