Being an introvert as an adult has meant dealing with some uncomfortable, challenging moments. Something as simple as opening Christmas gifts in front of my in-laws has been a source of anxiety for me. Going to social events where I was expected to network? Necessary, and something I'll do when I have to, but it's definitely not the most enjoyable activity for me.
When I became a mother, the last thing I expected to be challenged by was my personality type. I mean, late nights breastfeeding and teething pain and a hundred other things? Sure. I can totally handle that. I can handle almost anything. But getting my butt out of the house so that my child could enjoy swings and a slide? I really had no idea it would be this hard. It turns out, being an introvert is not just something that created social challenges when we were young — it rears its head in new and annoying ways once we have kids and become their de facto social ambassadors.
In many ways, motherhood can be an incredibly isolating experience. With my first baby, I put myself in all sorts of mom groups, to force myself to leave the house and prevent myself from feeling that isolation. It wasn’t long before I realized my personality didn’t fit the chatty group dynamic. The second time around, I allowed myself to just chill at home with my son, whenever I needed it. There are some situations, however, that are impossible to avoid. The ones that I cringe at the thought of. The ones that I have nightmares about at night. Here are some of the ones I run into all the time, that I feel like most introverted moms can relate to.
Going To The Park Or Playground (There Are Other Parents There! And They Want To Talk To You! Ahh!)
This place feels like the party you should never have been invited to. The only person you know is the one you brought — your kid. You recognize a few people, but you don’t know anyone by name, because you’ve never had the guts to talk to them. You probably smile at other parents in the playground, but don’t hold eye contact for too long. After all, you don’t want them to take it as an invitation to come over and chat. Dear god, anything but that.
Actually, Leaving The House At All
OK, I’m going to admit something that feels awful to say, both as a parent and just as a person who doesn't want to be thought of as a lazy sloth, which I'm really not: Sometimes I just can’t bring myself to get out of pajamas and take my kids out. I know they’d burn off some much-needed energy at the park, or even just going to the coffee shop down the street, but I don’t want to interact with anyone, even the barista. Even if it means drinking coffee more delicious than I could ever make at home. I know being a homebody and being an introvert are not the exact same qualities, but I mean, they're definitely friends and very often hang out together.
Going On Playdates
Did someone write an etiquette book about playdates? Because I have no idea how to initiate one, or whether I need to show up if my daughter is invited to one. Thankfully, no one has reached out yet, which leads me to believe that no one knows how to deal with playdates, and we all are basically avoiding eye contact with one another, praying none of the other moms are preschool pickup suggest "getting the kids together this weekend." Or maybe that's just me, and my fellow introverts. I will admit to feeling pretty guilty for never trying to make something happen between my daughter and her favorite friend at daycare, but playdates sound like a no-win situation for introverts: all the awkwardness and stress of going on a date, with pretty much no chance of making out. No thanks.
My daughter is turning 4 in a month, and she’s never had a birthday party with her friends. She thinks birthday parties are just for her grandparents and immediate family, the poor girl. Meanwhile, all of our friends with kids close to the same age have already had at least one massive kid-filled party, complete with giant, cartoon-themed cake and loot bags. You guys, she's going to figure this out soon, and I'm going to have no choice but to spend a day not just socializing, but hosting all these tiny people and their less-tiny parents. I'm not thrilled about the idea of this.
When People See My Cute Baby And Want To Talk To Me About My Cute Baby
I can appreciate when people see a baby, think he’s adorable, and want to find out more... I guess? OK, I don’t really understand it at all, that urge to speak to people about their babies, especially if you don't know them. All the same, I’m aware that it’s a “thing” and have to prepare myself every time I go out in public with one of my children that I will be approached by people I don’t know. They may want to tell me I have a beautiful child, or find out how old my child is because their grandchild looks about the same age, or whatever. All I know if that random people feel the need to make conversation with me in a whole new way now that I have kids.
Having Extroverted Children
I’m not sure how we managed it, but my partner and I created a child who just. doesn’t. stop. Neither of us were like this as children, and both of us are introverts. This child of ours? Totally not an introvert. She makes friends with random people in the grocery store and is the life of the party at weddings. She also constantly needs interaction with other people in some form. This is not a kid who will quietly play with Legos or draw by herself — everything needs to be done together. It can wear an introverted mom out. (OK, it could wear any mom out.)
I don’t know if this whole “being an introvert and a parent” thing gets easier. With my daughter starting kindergarten soon, I guess I have PTA meetings and team sports to look forward to trying to avoid, next. Send help.
Images: Tachina Lee/Unsplash; Giphy(6)