Yes, it’s true. I’m not really the social butterfly I’ve been pretending to be my whole life. It was my 7-year-old son who helped me realize I can just be me — no excuses — and he doesn’t even know.
It’s not that I’m trying to be rude or that I don’t want to talk to you. It’s really quite the opposite. I get nervous in large crowds — such as the one that gathers outside my child’s class before the kids have been dismissed. I feel awkward standing silently next to other parents but even more awkward making random small talk in a group. (Oh, how small talk makes me want to crawl into a hole.)
I’m not sure if I’m shy, introverted or just a little cray, but if I have a casual conversation with other parents at my child’s school, I could ruminate for hours on whether or not I said something stupid (which, in my mind, is always the former) and what said parents think about me now.
In reality, those parents probably don’t even have the time or energy to care about our small conversation. Maybe they even think I’m nice. Funny? A stretch, but it could happen. But it’s painstaking for me, so I’d rather avoid the situation altogether. I prefer one-on-one real talk. It’s the way I’ve formed friendships my entire life — one true relationship at a time.
When my kids started school (starting four years ago with my son going to preschool), I longed to be a part of the “cool moms group” — you know, the fit ones in their yoga pants (that actually go to yoga) who drop off their kids then go to coffee or shopping for the three “free” hours until pickup time. I even managed to get invited to a few of these coffee/shopping sessions, but I never really felt like part of the clique, which just builds upon the anxieties that have been brewing since I became a mom… and back to my high school days, if we’re being honest.
As my son got older, I noticed he’s a bit like me. Kind of an introvert, maybe a bit of lone dove, by choice, but happy in that choice. At this point, he doesn’t have the desire to play a team sport or have a friend over every day. He’d rather play LEGOS with me or chess with his dad after class. I worried at first that he wouldn’t make friends or that he’d get left out. But then I began to take notice of how kids in his grade just naturally gravitate toward him. These are not friendships formed out of convenience, as I feel mommy friendships sometimes can be. The friendships he has are genuine. That’s what really counts to him. And come to think of it, that’s what really counts to me, too.
I decided I don’t have to chat up every mom waiting to pick up their kid from school just because we’re in the same place at the same time. I can just be, and if a real friendship develops with another mom on campus, then that’s simply a bonus. So if you see me at school, please, skip the small talk. Let’s get right down to the nitty gritty — that’s where real friendships are formed anyway, right?