Last year, I attended my first Allume Conference. It was a year when mothering was getting the best of me, and I was fighting to keep the remaining pieces of myself. The pieces that wanted to write and be creative. The pieces that wanted to enjoy late-night laughter, drinks with friends, and connections that went beyond nursing, nap time, and diaper change horror stories.
The desire to hold on made me so determined that I went to that conference with my one-year-old in tow. It was one of the hardest things I’d ever done. A sweet friend helped keep an eye out for my baby girl’s wanderings when she could, but I found myself spending much of the time ducking in and out of sessions or hunkering down in the mommy lounge. I think I only took in a few sessions and a couple of meals, but I still learned some things that I will carry with me forever.
These words from writer Shana Neiquist among them: “Hospitality should be about making others feel better about themselves, not better about you…The soul of hospitality is presence and connection.”
Finding Connection Through Hospitality
As an introverted only child who didn’t grow up in a “gathering” house, the concept of hospitality always seemed foreign to me. It also seemed forced. I cherished my space and the time I spent there alone. Yet, when I got married (to an extrovert), I found myself doing more “hosting” than I’d done in all my life. I loved getting to connect with people in the moment. But it was never easy getting to that point—because I never felt ready and I never felt good enough.
If you’ve ever felt that way, it’s more than likely because of setting unrealistic standards or chasing perfection. That was certainly the case for me.