It was Mother-Son night at the boys’ school last month. While I had dreams of a Casino Night or a Texas Hold ‘Em Tournament, the Vatican seems pretty committed to this whole bingo thing. It really makes you wonder if the Twelve Apostles didn’t actually invent the concept of the four-corner win and daubers. Catholics simply love their bingo.
I think it may be a commandment.
Anyway, I was looking forward to spending some quality time with my boys. As a first-year family to the Catholic school system, I was interested in witnessing Danny and Jack in their new surroundings. I hadn’t bothered with any pre-planning and figured my mom friends would be engaged with their own kids for the evening. I assumed we’d all just sit, play bingo, and I don’t know…
Like I said. I’m new.
How was I to anticipate that my sons of Judas would ditch me faster than a torpedoed submarine the moment we walked in the door? They hustled towards their friends without so much as a single backward glance or word of adieu. The room was crowded with bustling kids, moms, and bingo distributors. It began to suffocate my rationale self.
There were instant flashbacks to the junior high lunchroom. Where would I go? Who would sit with me? And are those cupcakes??
My social anxiety shot into overdrive.
Thankfully, I have logged in many years as a closet lunatic, so I refrained from pulling my hair or screaming words that Jesus might not fully appreciate. Internalizing my increasing panic, I casually looked around for just one known entity. I assessed my options were limited to the “hi and bye” variety of mom who already appeared to have established her group.
Just as I hatched a plan to hide in the bathroom until the last bingo was called, a smiling face appeared before me.
“Marianne? How are you doing? Are you by yourself? Come sit over by us!”
It was Paula. Not a close neighbor. Not a relative. Not someone whose kids I have watched, driven, or misplaced. Paula was simply a true beacon of faith, offering up a spot at the inn just as I was ready to head over to the cold porcelain manger.
I fought the urge to throw myself at Paula’s feet as experience has taught me that usually just makes people nervous.
For the remainder of the evening, I basked in the warm feeling of being claimed. It didn’t matter that I didn’t know the other women at the table. It didn’t matter that Jack prevailed at bingo and won another blasted Rainbow Loom. It didn’t even matter that my plans for bonding with my sons had gone awry.
I had been the recipient of an act of kindness, and I was committed to providing the same back.
So this week, I attempted to give a kid some goggles at swim practice, provide directions to a lost mom, and bake banana bread for my pregnant neighbor.
The swim kid thought I was a child abductor, I botched east with west while giving directions, and I burnt the banana bread to a crisp.
I’m thinking from now on, I should probably just stick with bingo.