Saturday, November 3, 2012

mommy outsider (a one woman pity party)

Yesterday, I went to daycare because they were having a halloween parade--the kids all wore their costumes and walked around the parking lot while we parents went crazy and took pictures. Sweet.

But it was also bitter for me because I came face to face with the old feeling of social exclusion. I was chatting with the other parents in W's class, people I've known now for almost three years. I see them at pick up and drop off and occasionally at birthday parties and other non-daycare events (the few that exist). And I mostly like them. But I feel like such an outsider. Today, one of them referenced the fact that she texts with one of the other mothers and I realized that I don't have either of their phone numbers. None of them text me, and I got the sense that sometimes they all get together with their kids without me and W. I've tried to make overtures on occasion, but they seem not to pick up on those moments and so I'm not invited.

It's like high school all over again. I left feeling totally hurt, sad, and confused about how else to get into this little community of mothers who seem to like each other. And maybe they just don't like me.

Part of me says: this is ridiculous. Adult women aren't like high school girls and they're probably not excluding  me on purpose or out of spite. But it still is what it is. I'm still on the outside and not only am I hurt by it, but W is being left out of some social events that he might really enjoy. How do I get in without seeming desperate? I really think I've done all I can. I even came home after the parade and thought that perhaps I'd look for them on FB to share pictures from the parade, but didn't find anyone (not sure I have their names exactly right....not sure if they're even on FB).

I'm sort of surprised at how painful this is. I actually thought that these women and these kids didn't get together much outside of school, so I imagined all this time that we'd eventually build an outside-of-daycare community when the kids got a little older. Turns out it already exists, just not with me in it.

I am socially awkward. I know it. I often can't think of what to say and I don't know how to connect with people. I find it hard to relax in settings with new acquaintances. I do best when someone seeks me out, pushes past my awkwardness and just befriends me, whether I like it or not. Most of my friends, in fact, have evolved this way: they've chosen me and I've embraced them, making eventually for a lovely friendship. Once I become friendly with someone past that initial awkwardness, things usually smooth out. For some reason, I'm having trouble finding that post-awkward sweet spot.


  1. I'm so impressed you are doing this (daily blogging). And I relate to this, too. I get that feeling at the park, too, like everyone else comes in groups of mom/dad friends and kids and we are always alone. People are "friendly" but not "friends". I have to believe that I'm somehow to blame. I get shy and appear unapproachable or aloof, when really I'm dying for someone to reach out. It is like high school again. In high school I literally MADE myself talk to people, it worked. I wasn't by any means "popular" but I had a nice group of friends and got better at talking to new people, which helped throughout my schooling. I may need to refresh those lessons, those skills have definitely atrophied.

  2. Oh Rachel. I totally know how you feel. It seems, navigating these social situations with our children we have to navigate them again ourselves. The good news is this gives us an opportunity to make new friends. The bad news is it also gives us the opportunity to get hurt and feel left out.

    It is obvious that women at my daughter's school know each other outside of school. I see them greet each other and hug in a way that assures me they have a relationship of some kind. I don't know if their is an extensive network of them hanging out but a couple sets are definitely close.

    I have thought a lot about building up a network of parents from Isa's school to hang out. Frankly, the prospect overwhelms me. I don't really understand how or when it could happen. Weekends are already so busy and that is the only time we could hang out.

    I decided the best thing for me would be to try to befriend just one woman. Maybe set up a few play dates with her and her daughter and see where it goes. If a friendship forms, great. If not I'll take a break and try again with someone else. If I'm really industrious I could try to befriend three women during the year. That would be a great effort in my opinion.

    But I know that I might not end up with a friend. Sometimes people just don't click. I met with SO MANY women when I was on maternity leave and while I liked many of them, I wasn't drawn to them as friends. I just didn't feel a connection with them. The truth is it's hard to find that kind of connection with someone. That is why good friends are such treasures, because they are hard to come by.

    Maybe just starting with one woman would be the way to go, instead of trying to infiltrate an entire group. Maybe pick a woman who also doesn't seem involved in the group or just pick one woman from the group who could eventually gain you entry to the group later on.

    Good luck with all this. It's really hard.

  3. I have a lot of problems with moms. 1) they're fertile and I can't relate to them nor they to me 2) they have a lot more help and free time than I do. Or 3) petty middle school stuff.

    I find dealing with other parent is the closest thing to middle school. Of course, I've also met some wonderful parents too. And that's been really good.I found the moms on the fringes or edges of the groups are often the ones I can relate to.

    Good luck!

  4. Thank you all for commenting. It's true that it might not be so hard if I just focus my efforts a bit and make myself interact. I'll keep looking on the fringes (great description)!