Cloth Napkins: They Separate Us from the Animals

It’s a funny thing, being a mother whose children are past the baby/toddler phase. It’s all still overwhelming sometimes. (Especially the laundry. So. Much. Laundry). But other times it feels strangely manageable, and so I feel I can do things I haven’t done in years, like plant tomatoes, read an issue of Southern Living cover to cover, take on a leadership position in a volunteer organization, or—perhaps most inconceivable of all—complete a logical thought.

And I find that there’s really no in-between. Certain hours of the day or week, I’m completely overwhelmed with making dinner, while washing beach towels, while helping Eloise with her summer tutoring homework, while coordinating Amma’s horseback riding schedule, while listening to Bea tell a story about a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, while discussing recent changes in abortion policy with girlfriends via iMessage. Either all that is going on, or my girls are at camp and the house is quiet and relatively clean and I’m alone with my thoughts.

So I have moments where I can plan ahead to the next thing, which is a luxury I haven’t known in years. Years. And so I find myself not just trying to survive this one moment with three children who all need something. Now I’m able to think ahead, to the Fourth of July. The wedding of a friend. The summer polo tailgating season. The Back-to-School Picnic. The Fall Festival at school. The Christmas Tea that it’s my job to plan. Yesterday, I actually booked a blowout appointment three and a half weeks out.

That brings me to today’s thought-of-the-day: napkins. I went to sleep pinning Christmas Tea ideas, and I woke up thinking about Christmas Tea napkins. Since I want to devote most of my party planning budget to champagne and tea sandwiches, I actually looked into what it would take to make my own tea party napkins.

I’m not a seamstress, and precision is not my strength. I’m good at creative, imprecise activities, like cooking and flower arranging, and having whimsical ideas and then making them come to life, and having everyone say how surprising and delightful they are. With sewing, there’s too much measuring, too little room for error. I’ve always wanted to learn enough about sewing to be creative with it, but like any other art, you have to master the rules before you can break them. And I simply don’t have the patience to master them.

Still, my event needs napkins.

Soon I will admit to myself that the best option will probably be to rent the napkins from the wonderful people at Events LLC. But the fact that I considered making my own, even for a fleeting moment, tells me that I am either going crazy, or that I am somehow already morphing into the luncheon-hostessing elderly matron that I always knew I would become.

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