It was 5:45 when the phone rang. "Have you eaten?"
"Ummm..." The kids and I had shared a late and heavy snack of cheese and crackers. Jim wasn't yet home from work, and I knew that he was headed right back out to a game. My most unambitious menu plan was to make smoothies.
"What if we come over with pizza and salad and hang out while the guys are at the Y?"
Generally, I'd rather put on eyeliner and go to a party than curl up with a book, and for years, I thought that this made me an extrovert. But while I am more energized by people than completing tasks, I do prize solitude. I enjoy a crowd (and small groups even better) but ultimately, I require and am refreshed by time alone.
The tricky thing about being a stay-at-home-parent is that it can foster loneliness in a person who is almost never alone. Solitude and adult connection are elusive like the Holy Grail, and as an extroverted introvert and harried mama, I'm not always sure how best to fulfill my need for both.
I long for community but burned out a while ago with all the joining, hosting, and doing. My best efforts felt forced and the returns exceptionally modest. A disappointing track record combined with long camp summers and the everyday exhaustion of caring for preschoolers became the perfect storm for me to hone coping skills resembling a recluse instead of the woman who used to fancy herself an extrovert.
I remember the wisdom of Bonhoeffer in Life Together, that community and solitude are mutually requisite aspects of being human.
Only in the fellowship do we learn to be rightly alone and only in aloneness do we learn to live rightly in the fellowship. It is not as though one preceded the other; both begin at the same time, namely, with the call of Jesus Christ.
Each by itself has profound pitfalls and perils. One who wants fellowship without solitude plunges into the void of words and feelings, and one who seeks solitude without fellowship perishes in the abyss of vanity, self-infatuation, and despair.
Let him who cannot be alone beware of community. Let him who is not in community beware of being alone.
I'm relearning balance. When my edges fray and patience wears thin, sometime the greatest act of peace is not retreat but reaching out--or allowing a friend to reach out to me.
We're barely catching up amid the chaos, but there's a wholeness all the same, the kind that eludes solo teeth-gritting and most feeble efforts to muddle through.
My friend and I practice the peace of sticking together. The peace of real life, messy and last minute. Of spilled milk, half-clothed littles, and happy squeals.
Even (and perhaps especially) when disorder and decibels scream otherwise, there is peace in Me, too.
We're talking about peace throughout the month of October. If you want to share a practice, check out this intro and send me your idea for a guest post. I'm beyond excited for all the great perspectives that are coming in already:)
Shared with the community at Imperfect Prose.