Hey, hi there. I’m the mom in your neighborhood or in the PTA who doesn’t ever come over to talk to you because I have social no-thanks-ism.
What’s social no-thanks-ism, you ask? So glad you’re wondering. It’s a combination of generalized anxiety and introversion and full-time-working-motherhood, and it’s the reason I don’t greet you at the bus stop or run up to volunteer to bring fresh baked goods to the next after-school event or participate in moms’ night outs with the gals.
I guess it is kind of weird, but listen: it’s not you, it’s me. I mean, it’s definitely you, too, in that I don’t really want to expend the energy it takes to pretend I’m normal after a long day of work and parenting. (Because I’m definitely not normal. I’m just me, and I’m ok with that.) But it’s mostly me.
See, if you really knew me, you’d know I’m actually not so bad to be around. Except for the vulgarity and the constant joke-telling and the cynicism. But most people who actually call me a friend find that stuff endearing. That’s probably why I don’t have so many friends, huh?
Put another way, I really do want to hang out with you. I just wish we could skip the part where we have to get to know one another and make like we agree with the same things and feign interest in the same hobbies. I’d like us to go straight to being who we really are, and then you could decide to like me or hate me for actual real-life reasons as opposed to pre-conceived notions.
As it stands, you don’t like me because I’m standoffish. And I get it. I am. But not because I’m not a friendly person. Not because I don’t WANT to get along. Just because by the end of the day, I’m tired. I’ve been smiling and carrying on conversations and being agreeable all day at work, and I need a minute when I get home. A minute to be grouchy, or to be sad, or to be angry, or to be tired and not ready to people just yet.
And anyway, I’m not really sure we have all that much in common as it is, and it’s physically exhausting to even think about having to mom date right now to see if we’re halfway compatible. I’m in my late 30s. I’ve forgotten how to date in general.
Sure, our kids like each other well enough. And it would be nice if we did, too. But the thought of putting myself out there for emotional scrutiny is a bit more than I can take on right now, what with all the scrutiny I face in my day already. I don’t need to set myself up for another rejection, and I don’t need to have to explain why I must retreat to my room alone for a half hour to recharge (introversion, remember?).
So instead, I keep my distance. I decide my plate is already full enough of emotional obstacle and turmoil. And you think I’m strange. And I am strange. But in a not-so-bad way. It’s just, you don’t know that. And I’m too tired to help you realize it.
So I’ll just be over here, doing my weird, anxious, introvertish thing, and you’ll keep thinking I believe my shit doesn’t stink (it does, and I know it), and I’ll half wish I could muster the energy to get to know you and half be thankful I’m not doing that because at times, the mental toll seems too much to bear.
Just know that I really DO think you’re probably great. And I WANT to connect on some level. I simply suffer from social no-thanks-ism.
Maybe we can connect when these kids have flown the nest. At least then I might have the gumption to flee my lair.