>Comfort Zone

>I took Leila to a birthday party a couple of weeks ago. It was her first birthday party that wasn’t for a family member and I woke up that morning with a rush of anxiety at the thought of taking her. Lots of parents of the kids that Leila goes to school with would be there, and the last thing I wanted to do was alienate the parents of Leila’s friends because I am socially awkward. We arrived at the Children’s Museum and Leila plopped herself right down with the birthday boy and started in on the art project they were doing together. Being the first of these such events for me, I wasn’t sure what the protocol was, but I fully expected to stand off in a corner and watch the festivities, ensuring that my child didn’t misbehave. As the other parents began to arrive and leave I realized that I was probably expected to leave as well. I wasn’t sure about that, but Leila didn’t care either way. I stayed around to snap a few pictures and see if the birthday mom needed any help while I watched more children arrive. There were a few kids that clung to their mothers as if they were being dropped at the doctor’s office instead of a birthday party at one of the coolest kid spots in town. There were lots of tears and anxiety. It made me uncomfortable, because I could see myself in these children. I coaxed Leila to offer seats to the criers, and she did it, just as I asked, and I was proud of her. I have a feeling that as different as Leila is from me, and as happy as she was in the unfamiliar setting of the birthday party, Thea is going to be a clinger like her mama. Sigh.

I left the party and started walking through the mall…by myself. A truly unique experience for me. I strolled around in stores and checked out a new little gift shop where jewelry and gifts sporting famous quotations were sold. That kind of thing is always a hit with an English major like me. I picked up a magnet that proclaimed:

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

Huh. I am still thinking about this one, two weeks later. Is that really true? Because life within my comfort zone is very nice. Life outside of my comfort zone gives me a stomach ache.

Tell that to the screaming and crying four year olds back at the birthday party and maybe they would agree, after all, they did get cake.

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