S’s last living grandparent turned 95 and we went back to Iowa for the celebration. It was an interesting trip for many reasons. S has never been super excited to go back to the small town to visit, especially since for so many years, his grandmother would come to CO for an extended stay. When she turned 90 we were going to go, but as it turned out, Baby Z was born the same weekend, making a trip impossible. 5 years later seemed to be a great time to finally see the town we hear about often and experience some serious small town vibes.
There are zero stoplights.
We flew into Omaha and proceeded to drive the 2.5 hours to literally the middle of corn and soybean fields where a town popped up. Spending the next 2 days there was relaxing in the kind of way where letting the kids run down the street with their cousins a half mile to a playground is no big deal. It was lush, humid, and the second day rained a lot thwarting bonfire plans. The party was interesting where I stood mostly off to the side not knowing many people, observing while most people stuck to their groups, and trying to keep track of my kids as they ran laps around the building. S and I took a couple walks around the downtown square wondering why it was so dead on a Saturday afternoon. (Probably because everyone has to travel 30 minutes to the nearest big grocery store) Through it all, the big thing for me was that I felt comfortable in my skin. I didn’t try to put on some way of being that felt foreign to me that inevitably would lead to anger towards myself that I then took out on my family. If I sat at a table full of people being quiet and listening to them talk that was ok.
I’m learning I don’t have to engage especially when I don’t feel like it. Being engaged can just look like listening and being with people.
That is a big lesson learned.