I used to consider myself an extroverted woman. I needed to be around other people, to talk to them and hear them and touch them in order to feel energized. I remember how being in a crowd left me feeling refreshed and rejuvenated afterward. Being surrounded by people was something I craved.
That changed the moment my first child was born. It’s like I pushed my extrovert chip out of me during labor. I began to feel reclusive. I almost didn’t recognize myself. Simply trying to return a phone call was excruciating. I was filled with anxiety and craved alone time — it was a completely foreign feeling for me. I kept waiting for my old self to reappear, but it never did.
Having young children means playdates. It means socializing them, helping them learn to make friends. Moms surely need a bit of that too, but much of the time we just have nothing left to give anyone else. We don’t feel like trying to get to know someone new, because we would rather be home catching up on laundry, feeding one of our passions, or sitting in a quiet dark room by ourselves. (Not that any of these things are even possible with tiny humans hanging off of you.) Sometimes the thought of trying to click with someone while trying (and failing) to find common ground as the kids are bouncing all over the place — it’s just too much.
Not that I hated playdates altogether. I enjoyed them and looked forward to talking to another mother if I was in the right kind of mood, but sometimes the social interaction would leave me positively sick with exhaustion. I would have nothing left for my three small kids, for my husband, for my chores. The only way to get my energy back was by being alone and listening to the quiet…which was nonexistent.
My kids are older now, and I’m not afraid to shout from the rooftops how thankful I am that the playdates of yesteryear are over. We have arrived at the much-anticipated drop-off stage — and it is spectacular. It’s satisfying to know I don’t have to make friends with the parents’ of my kids’ friends if I’m not feeling it, and my kids will still get enough interaction to keep them happy. I love being able to drop my kids off at the other parents’ houses and come back to my silent and temporarily kid-free home.
And when my kids have friends over, they entertain themselves. In fact, they don’t want me around at all (as long as I provide the cookies) because these days, I am super lame. I’m also confident when dropping them off somewhere for an afternoon, and happy I don’t need to stay. I can tell the other moms feel the same way. It’s nice to have a quick chat in the driveway, and exchange sweet smiles that say, “So nice to see you, but I have shit to do.”
As my kids grow, we are out and about a lot more, but the exhausting play dates are over. Interestingly, I’ve started to feel more social now that I know I am able to recoup in between social events. I am able to tell my kids I need quiet, and they actually get it and understand what that means. So while my extroverted self may never reappear, I am okay with that. I know I am not alone — the other day a fellow mom dropped her kid off at my house and practically peeled outta my driveway. She did manage a wave, and I returned it with a peace sign.
I knew we were thinking the same thing: Solidarity, sister. Solidarity.