I’m the mom whose nose is stuck to her phone most of the time.
I’m the mom who says hi but quickly walks away from you.
I’m the mom who texts instead of calling, likes drop-off birthday parties and leaves the kids in school as close to the bell time as possible.
I’m the mom who you probably think of as antisocial. The pleasant but weird one. You can’t quite put your finger on it, but you know that you never exchanged more than a:
“Hey, how are you?” with me.
You’ll probably notice me in the school yard from time to time. I am that mom.
Even as a kid, I never particularly liked to hang out in cliques. I never knew what to say, or when the proper time to get in a word would be. I was friends with both some popular kids and a few misfits. But I never quite fit in.
When introduced to an adult, or a new friend, I would hide behind my mom’s long legs—peeking at you, a tight knot forming in my stomach.
I always raised my hand in class. I was at the top of my class. Even today, faced with a huge, intimidating camera lens, I feel right at home. I’m confident and bubbly, loud and a tad too energetic.
But then I land back on planet Earth and I just can’t figure out how to put together two coherent sentences that I’ll feel confident about. If you chat with me, I’ll eventually bring you to a slightly awkward silence. My cheeks will flush, and I’ll tell you I’m wondering how much longer it’ll take for my daughter to get her backpack.
The same thing happens in social events. I stand against the wall with my drink. You might think I’m a people watcher – but I’m really trying to figure out how that tall girl seems to float through the room looking impeccably approachable, hyper connected. I wonder what it takes for that 40-something guy in glasses to feel so comfortable in his conversation with his boss that allows him sneak in playful punch in the arm.
My eyes scan the room and my heartbeat soars.
Then the music comes on. I watch some people bob their heads, raise their hands and move their bodies to the rhythm. I take to the dance floor and groove like no one is watching. I’m in my element. The music is too loud for me to have to talk.
I know I don’t stand alone.
I know that in every school yard, every karate class, every birthday party and every PTA meeting, there’s a mom just like me. We’re dying to make real human connections. If you approach us and get over our slight quirkiness, you’ll find in us great conversation and a loyal, straight-forward friend. If you minimize the chit-chat and ask us real, substantial questions, you’ll discover that suddenly, “awkward” moms become a lot less strange.
That resting bitch face is a sign of shyness.
Her inability to small talk doesn’t mean she doesn’t care.
When she walks away, she just needs to take a few deep breaths.
When her eyes evade yours as she walks over to say hi, know that she’s trying to muster the courage to try to feel, just a little bit more like you.
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