06 November 2008

Not Your Type

One of my most favoritest blogs evah is the most amazing Jason. For the love of God... That Chick Over There is the funniest thing since, well, since Berkeley Breathed called feminine protection a chartreuse flame-thrower. She recently wrote a post about how other women don't relate to her as a mother, even though she is a fabulous mother to The Boy and The Girl, 10-year-old twins (WOMAN! You are my HERO!). And this post made me think of my own propensity for keeping to myself, for staying away from other mothers. Because I can't relate to them.

I don't enjoy meeting new people. My mother-in-law says I'm great at it and that I can always find something to talk about with total strangers, but it's not something I enjoy. I do it because I hate uncomfortable silences and I can't stand being with someone I'm supposed to converse with and there's no conversing. And I especially can't stand the idea of sitting around with a bunch of mothers who I don't know very well, watching each other's kids (probably watching their kids and mine because no one else is paying attention - pessimism), listening to conversation (and whining and bitching and moaning) and trying to relate to them (when I can barely relate to myself). Because even though I'm a mother, I don't feel like one. And even though I'm raising kids, which is the same all over the world and involves pretty much the same process, give or take a few philosophies, I feel like I'm doing it differently and that I don't want to run the risk of criticism or strange looks. Because I worry about that constantly. Strange looks. Criticism. Eye-rolling. Over anything I do, or say, or decide.

It's one of my foibles. Whenever I talk to someone I don't know very well, or don't know at all, I keep thinking Does this person care what I say? Do they agree? Do they disagree? Do they like me? Do they think I'm ridiculous? And that pretty much runs through my head the entire time. And it drives me nuts. And it's just easier for me to stay away from it. And to stay away from all the other mothers who probably would like me and my kids. But the uncertainty of it all would drive me nuts. I guess this is the part of my psyche that is in constant need-to-please mode. And honestly? Being in a room full of mothers? With a separate room full of kids? Is a need-to-please hell on Earth.

Even though my psychologist says a playgroup might be good for me and for J-man (since the twins are in school and already have a built-in playgroup), I'm not sure. Would it truly be good for me to sit and over-analyze what others think about me and my child and do it on a daily basis and stew on it? Or should I just grit my teeth and get over it?

I just don't know. Chick, honey? It's not you. It's us.

14 comments:

Violet said...

I do the same things - wonder if people like me, care too much about that, talk a lot to fill silences, etc. It took me a long time to get out to play groups because I tried a couple and found that I, as a SAHM, seemed to be viewed (this is my - probably paranoid - impression, anyway)as a whiner by the working moms if I brought up so much as one mothering worry or question to discuss. I wondered if the other moms didn't have the same issues because they weren't with their kids 24x7 or what?

Once I found other SAHMs, even though the group was kinda motley, I had a much better time being with other moms.

Since then I've come even further and found lots of moms who share my parenting philosophy/style AND other beliefs and interests (I found them through my 5yo's school - was invited by other hippie-types to join a hippie-type moms club).

Through it all I've been very pleasantly surprised at how many other families do the things we do and how many people who don't share the same parenting philosophies, etc. are willing to NOT tell me I should be doing things they way they're doing them.

I think the hardest part is just walking out the front door. Personally, the more adult interaction I have the more sane I am (so thank goodness for the Internet! - but in person is even better) and over time I'm getting better at tuning out the criticisms and "shoulds" that may come my way. The majority of moms in play groups are just there to keep sane by getting some adult conversation!

(But I do know what you mean about worrying you'd end up watching everyone's kids; I stay much closer to my kids most of the time than the other moms [helicopter mom? I hope not but maybe] & sometimes see other people's kids walking out the front door of the school when they [the mom(s) are at the back of the hall, etc.)

Violet said...

Good lord that's a long comment! Heh...

RiverPoet said...

Yikes! I hear you. I was never good at being with other mommies. We just had zero in common. The problem is that you are so much SMARTER than the average person that you feel you can't relate or dumb yourself down enough. Admit it. I knew that was my problem. There was only so much diaper rash talk I could stand. After that I wanted to talk about the bigger issues at hand. And crickets would chirp.

Sorry I couldn't encourage you more. I just happen to think of you as a Mensa mom.

:-)

Peace - D

Ashlie- Mommycosm said...

I have some of the same anxieties when meeting new people...and my in-laws would laugh at me saying that as well. I appear to be outgoing, but that is mostly b/c I get chatty when I'm nervous. And then I feel like I've said too much, or something totally stupid. Ack.

I would SO enjoy a play group with you. It's too bad we live so far apart.

Gypsy said...

I say give it a shot. Confronting fears and all that. But I know what you mean. Outwardly it seems like I'm confident and comfortable with new people. Inside I'm a worrying mess.

Giggle Pixie said...

I have those same social anxieties - in spades. It's been that way all my life. People around me (if and when I allow them to get close to me and learn of my feelings of inadequacy) tell me that my presentation to new people is wonderful, and that I come across as bubbly and pleasant. That may be true, because I am by nature a happy, bubbly, giggly type of person, but to do it with strangers takes work. Serious WORK people. And at every moment I think I might hurl right in front of them all. "Why's she keep looking at me like that? What did she mean by that? Oh, I can't tell her that I'd never do THAT!"

Self-esteem issues, at least in my case, are at the core of this anxiety. I've been this way all my life; a social misfit. But I keep working at it.

I bet you're doing much better at it then you think. At least you're putting yourself out there a lot better than I am. Keep at it, I admire you tremendously!

kaila said...

Before becoming a Mom I was an A-list social butterfly. Once I became a wife & mother, I did a 360. Now I don't want to socialize or talk to anyone I don't know. I think I am a good mom, could I do better? Sure, but don't we all think that once in awhile? My son is at the age now where school friends want him over, or he wants school friends over. I don't know these people. I don't want to know these people. I feel your pain....

Employee No. 3699 said...

They didn't have Play Groups when my kids were young, or if they did I wasn't aware of them.

I'd say to give it a shot. If you don't get along with or have anything in common with the other mothers, then quit or look for a different group. I do agree with Riverpoet though. You probably will be bored by some of these women.

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

Violet - I'm glad you found a group you can relate to. I just need to do the same. There is a multiples (twins, triplets, etc) group nearby, but the twins wouldn't be able to go except weekends (since they're in school) and since J-man is a singleton, he's sort of disqualified.

RiverPoet - Mensa mom. :) Maybe I'll have to start my own playgroup. "Mensa Moms only!"

MommyCosm - It is too bad. We should move to Aruba/Bonaire and start our own "ex-pat American bloggers in the Caribbean" playgroup!

Gypsy - I should give it a shot.

Giggle Pixie (aka Evil Genius) - Now that I'm finding this out about us bubbly people, I'm learning we're all insecure! Hmmmm, interesting....

Kaila - I really just want to socialize with the people I already know. I understand.

Employee No. 3699 - I probably would be. We should all get together for a weekend blogger playgroup! :)

Not Afraid to Use It said...

I say fuck it and go for it. The odds are most of the moms will be assholes (hey, didn't you read my banner? LOL) but the odds are also good that you will find at least one mom you click with. Then, you can start your own renegade playgroup and laugh at how stupid and incompetent all the other moms are.

Not that I've ever done that, of course. I'm just saying. ;)

A Free Man said...

A room full of mothers. Yikes. No offense and all, but I would rather be beaten repeatedly with a bag of doorknobs.

Berke Breathed, now there you go. Bloom County was integral in my growing up!

Duck said...

See, you and I could totally hang out.

I don't have kids yet, and basically, as long as they have things like, clothes, on - or not even then - I'm totally non-judgemental.

I recently had to blow a child's nose for them and I'm like, wow.

HEATHER said...

The more people I meet the better I like my cats and dog. ;-)
Socialing is highly over-rated, or at least in my opinion. But I'm a grouch.

That Chick Over There said...

Being alone isn't so bad, you know. It's not even that which bothers me. It's the fact that women who I KNOW ALREADY just completely disregard my experiences as a mother because they can't relate to me because my children are older. (God, that was the longest run-on sentence evah) As though I have nothing to offer. Which is complete bullshit because, you know. I raised those twins by myself for five years and I have the cramped toes from holding bottles between them to PROVE IT.

Anyway. I love you too.