I never knew I was an introvert until I became a mother. Motherhood thrust me into a world of high-pressured socialization. With random birthday invitations, stranger playdates and school functions, I was thrown into a sea of unfamiliar faces with the expectation to be “friendly.” As I started to find creative ways to avoid these situations, it became apparent to me that I no longer could deny my true identity. I am a socially reluctant avoider.
I know I am not alone with these feelings. I am just too antisocial to meet my compadres. Here are five ways I avoid talking to other moms:
1. Invitations: Where’s the freakin’ email address?
When my children get a birthday invitation, I desperately scan the card for an RSVP email. If there is no email, I silently curse the mom and look for the second best thing: a number with the wonderfully scribbled words “text me” next to it. If I see only a phone number, I spend the rest of the day contemplating whether or not it would seem weird to text the mom.
2. Birthday Parties: At what age is drop-off allowed?
Birthday parties are 120 minutes of pure torture. When you have young children, it is apparently not acceptable to drop and run without prompting whispers and a call to Child Protective Services. No, you must endure the “fun” along with your children. The women swarm around like bees in little colonies. I scan the room for a chair or bench I can plant myself on for the duration of the hellish experience. I take out my phone and try to look busy—failing miserably every single time.
3. Since when did kid activities involve so much parent participation?
Okay, I don’t remember my mom participating in any of my activities (if you can even call roaming around the block until the streetlights came on an activity). It starts off early these days with Mommy and Me classes. Yes, I do want my toddler to learn to swim. No, I do not want to squeeze my mommy body into a bathing suit and awkwardly sing songs with seven strangers in an over-chlorinated pee pool.
As the years go on, it gets worse. Yes, I do want my little girl to participate in the joys of Girl Scouts. No, I do not want to sign up to pressure innocent shoppers to buy my kid’s Girl Scout cookies so the troop can go on a camping trip. Let me write you a check. I will pay you anything. Just tell me the amount.
4. Playdates: Kill me now!
Playdates are worse than going to the dentist, hearing the sounds of fingers on a chalkboard, and dare I say, pre-labor. Yes, it feels that bad. It starts with the dreaded words, “Mom, I want a playdate with….” I tune out the rest as my heart starts to pound. Oh God, a playdate. “Okay,” I say through gritted teeth, trying to sound encouraging. And then my mind starts to whirl. Can I text the mom? Yeah, phone phobia is part of the whole package. Will she maybe just drop her kid off? Do I have to entertain the mom the whole time too? Uggghhh. And it doesn’t end there. There is the mental review of the playdate after it is over. She hasn’t asked for another playdate. Did I do something wrong? Was I too talkative? Not talkative enough?
5. Parent Pick-Up: When did that become a block party?
For some parents, parent pick-up is another word for mommy block party. They surround the school in their yoga pants, desperate for human contact and adult conversation. They stand there long after their children arrive, swapping gossip and making playdates. Luckily, some wonderful genius created the parent-pick-up line. I am now given the gift of sitting in my protected minivan, behind my sunglass, anonymous in the crowd of SUVs that line the curb. I press a button and the door magically swings open. The children pour in. The door closes. Done.
I love parenting—really, I do. I soak up my children and enjoy the small stuff. And I get that it takes a village, but could we make that village have a little less mandatory social interaction?