Family

Confession: I Literally And Routinely Hide From Other Parents

Photo: Hryshchyshen Serhii / Shutterstock
mother and son looking at mountain view

I thought I would be “that mom” before I had kids.

You know the type.

“That mom,” the one who made the perfect cupcakes with the swirly icing on top with perfectly distributed rainbow sprinkles; “that mom,” who wore only the trendiest of mom jeans.

“That mom,” who was always keeping her kids’ social and developmental lives busy with a constant, but reasonable, flow of playdates, mommy groups, and swim meets.

I must have forgotten that my perfectionist nature is almost always trumped by my introvertedness; that I’m a severe homebody who hates people (other than the ones I created myself. My husband’s all right too, most of the time.)

Mommy groups are a constant afterthought for me, and I force playdates because I love my child, but mostly, I just wanna stay home with my babies and fuzzy sweaters.

My daughter is a social butterfly, however — mommy has to adjust.

Introverts are weird and we know it

It’s true. We have a constant internal dialogue that incessantly second-guesses everything we say — even the things we think. We’re socially stunted, and we can fake it, but we hate it.

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Throw an introvert into a crowded schoolyard with a plethora of extroverted moms chit-chatting away to each other (about what?? The weather? Politics — no; probably not. What the heck do strangers talk about??) as we wait for our mini-people, and we’ll probably physically shrink away into the shadows graciously provided by the sturdy brick and mortar facility.

It’s not that I hate people as a general rule or anything. It’s just that I can’t keep up with the small talk and gossip and nothingness that other moms partake in as we all wait outside the school.

It’s not the people I hate — it’s the people-ing. I suck at it and I don’t want to do it.

Now, I hide

I can’t say that I’m proud of this, but I can’t lie, either:

I hide.

Okay, maybe I’m a little proud. I’m a sneaky rogue who’s discovered a clever way to release herself from all the chit-chat.

Here’s the thing: my daughter is seven, and she’s more than capable at this age of walking around to the front of the school where it’s more “convenient” for me to pick her up.

Mmm. Yes. Convenient.

It’s true though; it is convenient. I am still pushing my almost-two-year-old son in the stroller (before you get on my case, I know he can walk — he does walk, a lot — but we’re working on boundaries and safety still and, well…let’s just say, that’s a story for another day. Also, it’s far for his little legs.)

The stroller is falling to pieces and I refuse to buy a new one (Gorilla tape is amazing, by the way.) The place I’m supposed to meet my daughter every day — the aforementioned schoolyard brimming with all the small talk — is at the back of the school, which would require me to go through a snowy gravel lot and a field to be visible to her once she’s released.

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It’s a city stroller, okay? I didn’t know I’d be offroading when I got the thing.

So now (after an email or two to her teachers to allow this) she meets me out front. Our lives are so much better for it.

Isolation was so totally my jam

You read that correctly. I was totally fine with being forced to stay inside (apart from losing all kinds of freedoms and having to wear the masks that I couldn’t help but question the effectiveness of, since so many people I knew were devoted mask-wearers and all of them got Covid anyway…)

By the way, not only am I an introvert, but I tend to ask questions like that one, and boy, do my questions make me unpopular with the cool kids.

Disclaimer: I’m not an anti-masker, anti-vaxxer, science-denier, or anything quite so severe — I just like to think about things. I still do what I’m told.

Anyway, one thing that plagued me with guilt while we were in lockdowns and throughout the pandemic, my daughter couldn’t go to swimming lessons. The pools were closed, and when they opened, registration filled up before I could get her in (there were limited spaces due to several city pools remaining closed, for some unknowable reason.)

I felt bad for her, but it’s not like we live in a place where there are a bunch of pools or lakes to fall into and drown in — I live in the prairies! I knew we’d get to it (she’s going next month — it worked out fine) but I felt so much unwarranted guilt about the fact that she couldn’t meet new people or learn this very important skill.

I, on the other hand, was totally fine staying away from people and avoiding activities that would force me to be around them. I was happy as a clam, wrapped up in my oversized sweaters and fuzzy slippers, drinking too much coffee, reading books, and writing a ton.

Isolation was a lot closer to “living my best life” than it was for a lot of people.

Now that things are opening up, I have gone back to playdates and she’s being registered for gymnastics in a few weeks. I hate putting myself out there, but she needs me to so I do it. That’s parenting.

Despite preferring my alone time to being with other people, I get that she’s the one living a healthier lifestyle. I do what I can within my limited social means to facilitate that lifestyle, and so far, we’re doing fine. I might even be growing up a bit, who knows?

But I still hide from other parents at every possible moment — it’s kind of like a survival instinct. What can I say? Some rogues never change.

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Lauren Hall is a writer, wife and mother of two, and writes about parenting and relationships.

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This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.