When I was pregnant I knew a large portion of my future was going to be unpredictable, but I assumed I could count on at least a few things to be somewhat inevitable. For example, my boobs would never look exactly the same, my capabilities would expand to accommodate the demands of parenthood, and I would never again have to wonder what to talk about in social situations as long as all parties involved had kids. What I didn't anticipate, of course, was that being socially awkward follows you into parenthood, too.
I guess I shouldn't have been too surprised, but my initial assumption still holds up, logically, in my mind. After all, there are countless facets to parenthood, so if all adults in a social setting have parenthood in common, there should be no shortage of sh*t to talk about. Sure, when it came to professional networking events and friends' birthday parties where I barely knew anyone, I was still left to my own woefully questionable social devices, but for the most part, I already knew how to navigate those situations. I'm not actually that tragically socially awkward in most cases, if only because I'm usually around friends or friends of friends, and those are people I'm much more likely to vibe with. It was the social settings I would find myself in as a result of being a parent that gave me pause to panic.
I mean, outside of all of us parents happening to procreate within a reasonable distance of some pre-scheduled playgroup, what did we have in common? Probably nothing. And yet, there we were, forced to interact with one another on a regular basis with nothing but our kids as established common ground — and even then, talking about parenting too much with strangers is dangerous territory. Like, Jenny's mom seems perfectly smart and nice until she randomly drops that she's an anti-vaxxer.
All told, having kids in common with strangers has made me realize that social awkwardness, if it's affected by becoming a parent at all, only exacerbates it. Here's how:
Because You Still Never Know What To Say To People
It's extremely annoying when you go through the process of bringing a life into the world and don't get any new super powers as a result. When all is said and done you're basically still your same, tragic self. That seems, um, incorrect. I'd like to speak to a manager, please.
Because You Walk Away From Interactions With Other Parents Feeling Pretty Stupid
As if being a parent didn't oppressively inject you with self-doubt at every turn, being a naturally socially awkward person means that you get to walk away from every conversation with another parent with a new affirmation that, yes, you are still an insufferable dork who shouldn't be allowed around other humans, but also you might be a bad mom? Who knows!
Have fun staying awake all night unpacking the implications of that face that one mom made on the playground after you made the slightly dirty joke that didn't land at all!
Because Being Outgoing Literally Helps You Be A Better Parent & That Pressure Sucks
The thing about having a kid is that you are not only tasked with engaging in a lot of social interactions because they are in your life, but you are also essentially their ambassador to the rest of the world. If you want to know about the best pediatricians, after-school programs, Spanish lessons, and play groups, you basically have to talk to other parents. And not just a little — you have to be plugged the f*ck in. It's exhausting.
Because You're Now Responsible For Someone Else's Social Life Too
This gets exponentially worse when your kid groups up a bit and you not only have to engage socially in your ongoing effort to be a Good Parent Who Knows Things Needed For Parenting, but you also get to manage their social calendar. Have fun with all that tedious small talk with the parent of your kid's play date who seems to think she needs to camp out in your living room the entire afternoon.
Because Your Kid Will Realize How Socially Awkward You Are At Some Point
Oh fun. Now you aren't the only person embarrassed by your inability to have a simple exchange with another human without making a really bad joke and immediately punctuating it with a loud "heyooooo!"
You know how when you do something extremely awkward around other people, the only comfort you have is knowing you can walk away and not be around anyone who just witnessed it? Yeah, that's over. Your kid's judging little eyes will follow you.
Because You Have To Do A Lot Of Objectively Awkward Sh*t As A Parent
Even if we have otherwise flawless social skills, being a parent itself will make you awkward, at least in the eyes of people without kids. There's absolutely no cool way to change an apocalyptic diaper in public without weirding out everyone within smelling distance. Breastfeeding anywhere with other humans nearby will make half of them devolve into barely functional balls of nerves and weirdness. Even if you're not one who feels awkward in any given situation, you will often be the one who infuses awkwardness into it. But like everything else that used to bother you pre-kids, you very quickly stop caring.