Subtitled “playgroups, birthday parties, and learning to run with the herd,” this essay in Brain, Child, has been working its way through me like a koan. The author, a former loner, describes her journey from exclusion, e.g. “a playgroup is the social equivalent of surgery without anesthesia,” to membership in a tribe of women. Overcoming what she describes alternately as a fear of rejection or as contempt, she learns to conform to the standard of birthday parties and give her son a whopping one. It was a great success. Well written and thoughtful, it is a lesson in transformation and friendship.
She even made fun of how apparently ‘fashionable’ it is to complain about an alienated state. So, where do I go from here? If a fellow alien found her way into the herd, what is my excuse? I should suck it up and join. Especially because I can’t stand the thought of doing anything fashionable.
Do you see where I’m caught? I can’t join and I can’t not join. Not only do lavish parties stress me out, but I also actually believe that it should be ok to do it differently. On the other hand, I most definitely do not want to foster contempt or fear of rejection or actual rejection; I do not want my child to be without a social group; I do not want do not want do not want do not want…
I want to be able to have a quiet and cheerful party. I want to be able to question ‘attachment parenting’ and feel tender toward attached parents. I want to say what feels true to me and still have friends. I want I want I want it all.
I’m going back to my meditation cushion. Ring the bell when the next century arrives.