School Life for the Socially Awkward Mother

My daughter started school this year and even though she is my second child, I admit I was worried.

I wanted her to make friends. I wanted her to have a safety net and a go-to buddy every time the teacher asked them to form a pair.

Instead of asking her what she learnt I asked her who she played with. One afternoon she answered with “no one.” No one? Why was she smiling? When I asked her what she did at lunch time she told me she was a construction bin.

What does a construction bin do? It stands there. I asked her if she was lonely. She laughed and told me she didn’t feel like playing with anyone. She wanted to play her own game.

After the first month she had already had her first kiss, which was “gross” and she vowed never to do it again. She also got married. Her 5 year old husband wanted to make her happy and stole his mother’s credit card and brought it to school for her.

Months later she has learnt to read and count. She has become confident and when I pick her up there are handfuls of children who say goodbye to her. They know her name and she knows theirs.

What was I worried about? Maybe I was worried about myself. As an introvert sometimes I can’t work out if I’m shy or lazy. But, being part of a crowd makes me nervous. I feel like I look awkward, and that probably makes me more awkward.

I love people, I love deep and meaningful conversations. But, I am terrible at chit chat. I’ve had the same friends since high school and if I do make new friendships it takes time.

You tell me your name and it doesn’t sink in. I’m not listening, I’m too busy thinking about my body language. I’ll always remember your face and what we spoke about, but if you want me to remember your name. Add me to Facebook.

Being a parent means mingling. It means making new friendships whether you want to or not. I look at the mums at school pick up who nail it. They fit in and have a large posse to welcome them. They are celebrities at school and they deserve to be. These women are outgoing and they are nice. I’m slightly intimidated by groups of nice outgoing school mums. I admit it.

All I can do is stand there and hope I spot one of the five friends I have made over the past few years. Or bury my head in my phone. To be honest, I’m writing this article at school. Right now.

Recently my daughter went to her first school party. The whole class was invited and I took her on a cold Sunday afternoon because that’s what parents are expected to do.

I clung to the only mum I knew and followed her around like a lost puppy. Of course, it wasn’t that simple. I had to introduce myself to the host. She told me her name, was it Jan? Judy? Patricia? I can’t remember.

She was moving her hand, I didn’t know if she was signalling to shake it or going to scratch her nose. Do women shake hands? I panicked. I literally asked her if we should shake hands now. The words came out of my mouth before I could stop myself. I see her at school and I swear she turns away, maybe it’s in my head. It probably is.

Then there was last week, I was sitting there waiting for the end of school bell. Sometimes I sit in my car for as long as possible to avoid the dreaded chit chat. What if someone asks me a question I don’t have an answer to? But the sun was out, I wanted to make the most of the day. I found a seat, far away enough from any potential mum posses but close enough to grab my daughter and leave.

Someone sat next to me. She was chatty and I spent half the conversation wondering if we knew each other. We didn’t. But, I liked her and it wasn’t uncomfortable. How did she do that? How did she just come and sit down next to a complete stranger and have a conversation. She made me feel like we were old friends.

My ex-husband once told me I looked like a bitch. This is part of the reason he is my ex. Maybe it’s my resting bitch face which is the problem.

Or, maybe I’m not alone. Having children doesn’t automatically make you more outgoing but it does make you doubt yourself. If I am terrible at chit chat can’t I just own it?

Can I stick to who I know without feeling guilty. Can I do the minimum when it comes to socialising with other parents at the school gate?

My daughter thinks it is fine to be a construction bin when you don’t feel like playing with other kids. I am going to use this same approach when I don’t feel like talking to adults.

Do you have trouble mingling with other parents?

24 thoughts on “School Life for the Socially Awkward Mother

  1. Oh I hear you loud and clear.
    Im anti social. I have a handful of good friends that I hold very close and would do anything for and likewise them for me but I dont feel the need for a huge group of friends. Im a little like your daughter…I love my own company. Time on my own doing my own thing is a delight and its there that I recharge. Give me a good book and im mega happy. I while back I saw an ad for a 6month job. Staying on an island with only one other person for the entire 6 months. No internet and a phone that works only on the odd occasion….I would have loved that except the part where one other person has to be there as well…darn.

    1. That job sounds pretty amazing! Although I would have internet withdrawals and it depends what the other person is like?
      Thanks for sharing your comment xx

  2. Oh yes! You may as well have written about me! I am sociable when in a comfortable environment but this is quite rare. I will avoid situations where I feel i need to make small talk.

    Stay true to yourself and if you want to be a construction bin I will join you. We can be side by side. Comfortable, quiet and waiting. 🙂

    1. I was hoping I wasn’t the only one! It’s nice to find another likeminded soul. We can be construction bins together 🙂

  3. Oh I just loved your article, so interesting and funny too! Although my children are well past starting and being at school, I can relate to mixing in social situations especially mingling at husband’s work dos!!!

    1. I am so glad you enjoyed it Gilli! I’m not a fan of hubby’s work dos either, but at least you can have wine when it’s all adults 😉

  4. You have just written about a high percentage of people in the world 🙂 I loathe making chit chat as I feel that everything coming out of my mouth is judged…..My biggest bonus was when we moved out of town and the children had to catch the school bus 🙂 best day of my life ever.

  5. ok,. so when did you look in my diary from years ago and read it? What you have written is a shadow of myself in so much detail. I was one of those mothers that held back and wasn’t in with the it crowd.

    I too used to sit down on a bench waiting for my kid to come out of school and then this other lady would sit next to me. After a while, another lady would sit down and we sat on those seats from Kindy to 6th class and then it wandered over to waiting in the cars at high school for the same kids. That all started in 1991 and those friends are still the bestest of friends now.

    Great article and I did find it amusing thinking back to my days of waiting and recoiling from events at school.

    1. Mandy I love this! I have made a couple of great Mum friends which I can see myself still talking to in the future. I definitely can’t do the group thing though! 🙂

  6. I find myself chatty at work making easy conversations with strangers but find school a completely different ball park . I may come off as standoffish but find it hard to be really interested in making mum friends at school .
    I wait in the car park now – birthday parties I drop n go but always say hi .. I think as i get older I get less interested in making new friends .. kids learn n grow as they get older imma happy mama if my girl has friends is happy at school and is doing well. I’m
    Not so worried about fitting in ha ha

    1. I definitely think I come off as standoff-ish too. I probably should stop crossing my arms all the time haha. For some reason school does feel different to everything else, I don’t know what it is!

  7. I can identify with this For my son starting school I was concerned that he had friends from day one which was difficult because he hadn’t gone to preschool with the other kids near home. He was in child care and did the preschool bit there. He was devastated on day one and cried, and I was equally upset (want home for a cry about my poor baby being in school). He got over it in about 10 minutes. Took me a bit longer.

    After school pick up was also a difficult. I was a working mum so most of the time I picked him up from the after school care. When I did pick him up from class I knew no one and of course they were all stay at home mums who avoided me (in office attire, standing out like a sore thumb) like the plague, arranging play dates. I felt like a bad mother because I wasnt there everyday. He survived. I survived.

    So I hear you! You are not alone.

    1. We all have to learn to be resilient, and it sounds like you did a great job raising your son.

      My son went through a period in reception where he cried every morning for a few weeks straight. It was completely out of the blue and quite distressing for me, but eventually he got over it. I think bribing him with Tic Tacs worked!

      Thank you for sharing your story Deb xx

  8. Yep. Being a single Mum in a small town and not ‘belonging’ to the In Mothers, can feel very daunting.
    I ended up sitting in my car and until my child was the last one just to avoid the snobbiness and condescending attitude. He survived and so did I.

    1. I was a single mum for a few years until I met my husband, I definitely felt like people treated me differently then too!

      It makes you stronger though doesn’t it. Thanks for sharing xx

  9. My child only goes to childcare but I am and will be when it comes time to school almost exactly like yourself.

  10. Who would guess, you are like a celebrity here on Beauty and Lace, you are gorgeous, an entertaining writer, caring mum and now we can add so normal just like most of us that can relate to you on such a level that keeps us coming back here time after time.
    Thankyou for making me feel normal 🙂

    1. Oh Cindy, that is very flattering! I am definitely not a celebrity but thank you for your kind words! I am so glad you can relate, I felt a little bit embarrassed sharing it x

      1. It’s just so refreshing to hear a REAL story even if it is embarrassing you have helped me and others feel OK about ourselves, so thankyou for that 🙂

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