Betty Duffy

Monday, May 21, 2012

Crazy Bus

It's not all thunderclouds at the Duffys, in spite of several weeks of troubling news. We have now embarked on our annual busy season, which consists of the last two weekends in May during which we celebrate two birthdays and an anniversary. In addition, the time tends to bring other events, like First Communions, Parish Festivals, and Graduations.

This year has been a perfect storm of all of the above.

1. The Parish Festival was this weekend, and knowing I had a First Communion the same weekend, I told them I couldn't work this year. So they asked, naturally, if I would consider "chairing" an event, which only entails finding volunteers in advance.

Here's the thing with volunteer stuff-- I can only say no once. If my first no is met with another question that sounds like a mild compromise, I can never draw enough ammunition on the spot to answer a consecutive no, which is how, last year, in the throws of labor with a miscarriage, I became the Chair of the Skeeball booth. And this year, in the wake of several deaths in the family, with full knowledge I'd be celebrating two birthdays, an anniversary, a First Communion, and a graduation, I became Chair of the Three Point Challenge.

Believe it or not, my first mass email calling for volunteers yielded nothing. Not a soul answered. So, I began phase two of finding volunteers, whereby I go through the Parish directory and leave messages on people's voicemail--because no one answers my call when they don't recognize my number. Naturally, having heard my actual message, no one called me back--except for one woman who, with a little too much joy in her voice, let me know she was going to be out of town the weekend of the festival.

During phase three, I complain to friends who are parishioners about how no one has answered my request for volunteers. I usually get one or two guilt volunteers during this phase. And in phase four, I myself man the booth for all the empty slots I was unable to fill. This is why, Saturday night, after the house was cleaned, and the casseroles prepared for Sunday morning's First Communion, I was trekking off to the graveyard shift at the festival, rather than putting up my weary feet.

The Three Point Challenge made about $15 on that shift, which meant most of the time, I spent sitting at a table awaiting competitors, watching the Crazy Bus ride as hydraulic mechanisms shifted and a geometric pattern of lights made a slow circumference in the dark to the tunes of eighties hair bands. It was hypnotizing, actually--probably more restful than lying in bed thinking about everything I needed to do.

2. Among the things I needed to do, was figure out who all was coming to my house the following day. Because it occurred to me, that in my quest to find people to work the festival, I might not have done a very good job of inviting people to our party. I know I had told all the family verbally, but I'd never sent invitations in writing. And there was a slew of friends I wanted to invite, but I was waiting to invite until I knew whether or not I'd actually pull off the party.

I didn't know I was pulling off the party until the night before, sitting and watching the Crazy Bus-- it occurred to me that I had done it--I had accomplished all the shopping, cooking and cleaning I needed to do to have a big party, and I hadn't invited anyone but family, a few of whom had already sent regrets.

After the Mass on Sunday, at which my daughter received her First Communion, looking angelic and feeling great fervor for the Lord (maybe), my sister-in-law let me know that one of her kids had thrown up in the bushes outside Church and that she was taking her brood and heading home. My other brother-in-law had a fence to paint, or something, which made the head count at the party a rousing four grandparents.

So, I started inviting people at Church, and I managed to rope in some friends who have a bunch of kids--actually, one daughter and four boys, like us--and voila--a party!

3. So, I think it all came off ok this weekend. I'm up to my ears in leftover casserole, which I tried foisting on the kids for dinner last night, and again for breakfast this morning. There's still the option of a casserole dinner tonight, but the kids are already starting to make fun of me for answering "casserole" to their every inquiry.

For example, "What's for dessert?"--Casserole.

"What's going on tomorrow?" -- Casserole.

"Who's coming to my birthday party next week?"--Casserole

Which reminds me, next weekend, I've got to conjure up another party or four, for the birthdays and the fifth grade graduation, oh, and a kindergarten graduation (which we'll probably fluff over due to the rousing preschool graduation we celebrated for the same pupil last year). I'm going to give myself a little break though before I start thinking about it--maybe til Wednesday when school's out, and I'm sure to have all kinds of time for party planning and casserole making. Though maybe next week we'll just have hot dogs so I have time to invite some guests.


Erin said...

I know that, whether a woman is a working parent or not, every lifestyle can be overwhelming and stressful at times, but I have to admit that I envy you sometimes. {I think} I'd much rather be at home planning graduation and birthday parties and volunteering in church events than working the same old job day in and day out and always wishing I could be at home to clean my poor, neglected house for a change. All the same, I'll keep you in my prayers. :)

Rebekka said...

Sounds like you should serve build-your-own hot dogs AT the parties!

Kimberlie said...

Oh how I understand the lack of "stand your ground" when a "no" has been given to a request for help but not accepted. I have finally, in the last couple of years, gotten to the point where I don't volunteer for VBS. I just tell the RE Director "I volunteer all year long as a teacher in CCD. I want a break." But she's super nice and not pushy and a friend, so she accepts my "no."

As for the party-planning this week, I say "hot dogs, salad-y type things, and chips." Give yourself a break so that you can actually ENJOY the birthdays, graduations, and especially your anniversary! Happy Wishes to all of you for all of your celebrations! Will pray...

MrsDarwin said...

I'm coming to your house instead of cooking dinner here.

BettyDuffy said...

I have casserole for you Mrs D!

Lizzie said...

I laughed so much at this as I can relate too! Especially the part about the first holy communion party with no guests - ditto our family last week. James had been on for weeks about 'a party that goes on really late' - no chance of that this year for many and varied reasons.

I realised a couple of days before that I'd better invite a few guests - we did end up with quite a few friends and family which was great.
I completely forgot to take any photos though - 8 years since all the godparents were in place at his baptism and another 7 years til confirmation. Then I might remember to take photos!!

Why do people find it so hard to volunteer? I'm glad you made $15 though - as I read I was thinking it was probably more relaxing than being at home fretting about tasks to be done.

God bless and I've been praying for you after your tough time recently.

Julia said...

Rule of thumb: pretend the person asking you to volunteer is one of your kids. Then it's easy to say no over and over and over...

Dawn Farias said...

LOL - glad Instaparty Family was able to come.

Emily J. said...

Maybe you should offer to donate $100 instead of manning the booth. I'm planning to do that the next time some kid has to sell candy or wrapping paper or whatever. Or offer to work the beer tent.

Happy Special Days!

Dorian Speed said...

I like to keep the mystery alive in our marriage by inviting random combinations of people to join our party and not telling my husband until it's time to put the meat on the grill.

el-e-e said...

I loved this post! "Casserole." LOL!

The last half of May (and the last half of October) are always SO CRAMMED full of stuff. I totally relate. And I really wish there was a crazy bus around here that I could go stare at for a few hours. That sounds nice. :)

Congratulations on all your big events!