Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Risky Business

I've never been much of a risk-taker.  It was obvious from early in life that I'm athletically untalented, so I never played any sports.  I've always shied away from activities that could potentially invite public humiliation, like singing alone in public or competing publicly in contests I had little chance of winning. I've never had a desire to do any "daredevil" stunts like skydiving or riding a motorcycle.  Even on this blog, I tend to avoid writing about controversial topics.  It seems I just don't deal well with the possibility of failure, so I carefully avoid situations that aren't reasonably safe.

Naturally, nobody can live entirely risk-free.  Going to graduate school turned out to be a much bigger risk than I had anticipated, but I'm still glad I took it.  The position I held for the year and a half prior to Elise's birth was an uncharacteristically risky choice -- I had no teaching experience whatsoever, I was working in a geographic area that had significant cultural differences from the one where I grew up, and I'm terrified of being the center of attention.  I know I wasn't perfect, and I'm sure I would have improved had I done it longer, but I was still pleased with how I did, and extremely grateful for how well it all went.  Certainly a worthwhile risk!

Not long ago, I remarked to a couple friends of mine that I don't really take many risks anymore.  Despite its  trials and hard lessons, motherhood does not necessarily entail much day-to-day risk, at least not in the public sphere.  Nowadays my biggest risks are all teensy little social ones -- will I find someone to talk to at La Leche League this month? Will that mom email me back about scheduling a playdate? Will I get shy and tongue-tied for some silly reason during a mommy-baby excursion and alienate myself from the other others forever?  -- etc., etc.  For an oft-lonely, socially-awkward, lifelong introvert, these are genuine fears, and I suppose I could avoid all social risks by just staying home all the time.  But even I recognize that they don't amount to much.

So here's what I'd like to do to kick-start the amount of risk in my life (um, among other reasons, of course): try to start a mothers' group at our church.  Incredibly, despite having a membership of 5,000 people, our parish does not have a mothers' group.  (We had a small Elizabeth Ministry chapter for a couple years, but the leader recently moved away, and I fear it will probably cease to exist.  I did go to a meeting and it was a lovely group, but as its focus was mostly on infertility and child loss, I did not feel it was the right group for me.  Don't get me wrong, that kind of support is awesome and very much needed, but those sorrows have not been my cross.)  The risk, of course, is that the project will fall flat on its face and I will look like a miserable losery failure...or wait, I won't, because if it does blow up that badly, it will be because nobody was paying attention anyway. :)

There are other risks, too: what if it does take off, but a power struggle ensues?  What if it gains members, but I don't click with any of the other moms and feel like an outcast?  Or if someone else doesn't click and feels like an outcast?  Am I paranoid or what?

Of course, there would be no reason to bother if there were no possibility of reward; that's what makes risks worthwhile!  I can see great potential in terms of reward.  Admittedly, this idea is the brainchild of my own selfish desire for more friendship and camaraderie (that's gotta be at least a $50 spelling word, whew), but there have got to be more women at my parish pining for such an opportunity.  And is it really selfish to want more friends?  More fun?  More spiritual connectedness?  I don't think so.

So please pray for me that I can muster up the courage to take this risk, and that, if it's meant to be, it will work out.  If nothing else, it will allow me the opportunity to focus on something other than my wife-and-mother duties, which, while certainly the focus of my vocation and life, have comprised the entirety of my life for a bit too long.


  1. If I lived nearby I would LOVE to join your mother group! I think it's a great idea and have wondered why churches (at least the ones I've attended) don't have groups like that. Although, I'm such a non-risk taker like you that getting to the first meeting would be really hard (I've been wanting to do prenatal yoga classes, join LLL and other mom groups in the area, but I keep "putting it off" - I'm such a nervous wreck when it comes to being around new people).

    I also try not to blog about controversial topics either because I hate the conflict that ensues (I literally will stay up all night thinking about one negative comment!).

  2. Oh that sounds neat AND super daring. I would be terrified. Good luck! DO IT! :D