In Defense Of Charlotte York Goldenblatt & All The Other Extroverted Moms
My kids have long suffered the horror of having a busybody mom who organizes pie parties and book clubs and has friends over to do yoga on the lawn on a Wednesday.
No one really appreciates an extroverted mom (or maybe an extrovert in general). Just ask Charlotte York Goldenblatt (Kristin Davis) from HBO’s And Just Like That… Forever a cheerleader to her kids, her friends, her husband, and her best friend/dog Richard Burton who, in my opinion, is not getting nearly enough screen time. Forever organizing events and dinners and costume parties just so her ungrateful friend Miranda can show up without a costume.
It’s easy to roll your eyes at an extroverted mom like Charlotte. Like me. My kids have long suffered the horror of having a busybody mom who organizes pie parties and book clubs and has friends over to do yoga on the lawn on a Wednesday. Christmas potlucks with the neighbors where people sing carols in earnest and I cry at least once every year for the joy of it. My kids probably don’t cry but if they did it would be out of frustration. Because they hate it.
They hate it just like Rock and Lily are very vocal about hating Charlotte’s zest for life. But let’s never forget, Lily wouldn’t know how to put in a tampon if her mother didn’t stop in the middle of a dinner party in Season 1, hike a heel up on the tub, and give her a full demonstration. I don’t know if that’s extroverted or just invested, but it certainly wasn’t shy.
And shy seems to be the goal. Understated. Tasteful. It’s better to be the person saying no to invites than the one sending out email blasts about the pumpkin carving night on a Tuesday. Better because being an extrovert is the emotional equivalent of always being hungry. It’s not demure or cautious or cute. It’s a caricature of a real person without a rich internal life. The mom waiting on the playground to say hi, give a hug, ask about your kids. Being an extroverted mom is, in a word, uncool.
It’s standing in the doorway getting delivered pizza and talking to the driver for so long your son quietly closes the door. “That was embarrassing,” he admonishes me. It’s lingering in the fancy cracker aisle at the grocery store to chat with an old co-worker while your kids look bored and irritated, fidgeting behind your back. It’s trying to find that good-natured laugh when other moms make jokes about your poor kids having to “deal” with you.
It’s reigning yourself in. Tamping yourself down. Making yourself smaller. It’s telling yourself that you’re happy to sit at home in your empty living room just so your kids don’t have to deal with the noise of extra people. And it’s not like they’re going to be sitting with you. They are breathing behind closed doors, their own little planets in a different universe. But they want you here, alone. Or they don’t want you here but they don’t want you there either.
Charlotte gets it. She is currently in her kitchen smoothing down her perpetually smooth hair and grimacing and saying, “See, she understands me, Richard Burton! I wish I was real so we could be friends!” And so I have a suggestion for Charlotte. Take those kids to Ireland. This was where two of my kids learned that I am kind of great at talking and that this is kind of a good thing. Because no matter where we were in Ireland, land of banter and chatting and saying things like “what’s the craic” which means tell me something fun, communication is currency. Stronger than the Euro or the pound. If you don’t know how to share a bit of a laugh, tell a story, engage on some level, good luck getting anything done. Good luck in a taxi, at a grocery store, on a walk, in a restaurant. It’s not that everyone in Ireland is always talking, it’s that most people I met, much like Charlotte and much like me, think being an extrovert is a skill worth cultivating.
Two of my sons have gone with me to Ireland. Both of them are naturally introverted. Uncomfortable with new people. And I’ll tell you, I don’t think they’ve ever liked me more than when we were sitting in a pub on a rainy afternoon talking to a bunch of strangers. They didn’t tell me as much, but I saw it in their eyes that looked directly at me instead of rolling back in their heads. They laughed a little when I made a joke. Best of all, they learned to step out from behind me and talk a little. On a hike along the northern coast, in a taxi, around the fire. And they were happier for it.
Charlotte, tell Harry to take some time off. Book a flight to Ireland for the four of you. Teach those kids that being a chatty extrovert is actually considered a good thing in some parts of the world, and not a reason to roll your eyes.