Maybe I should just not plan what to write during April. This is my third pass at a post for this week.
This afternoon, when we got back from speech therapy, we saw all of the neighborhood kids out playing. I convinced mine to come in to at least eat the chicken I’d bought for dinner on the way home before going out to join. I took a notebook out with the intention of sitting on the porch swing and writing, but felt guilty about being antisocial, so ended up chatting with the other moms on our block.
Then some of the kids went in and the rest went to our backyard to play on our fort/play set. Having kids other than my own on our fort (or at our house) is weird. They do stuff that would never occur to my kids to do. Climbing up and sitting on the yardarm that holds up the swing, climbing into the tree next to the fort, climbing into the neighbor’s yard, which is what brought another mother and I back there. We made the neighbor’s yard off limits.
Well, the other mother made it off limits. I stood there, sheepishly wondering if we had liability insurance.
Thing is, I have no idea how to manage other people’s children. I don’t know what other mom’s rules might be. I don’t know what should be off limits. I can’t anticipate what they’re going to do. When I tell them to do something and they challenge me, I don’t know what to do. Little kids push me around…and I let them.
Because I don’t understand the social rules of being a mom. More than that, actually. I don’t know what the rules are.
Even being out front with the other moms was too much social for me. The mom’s are nice and I like them, even enjoyed talking to them, but I get overstimulated easily when there are that many people around. And I start to think about the summer and being out there every day.
I’m not sure I can do that.
And I know there have to be rules for our backyard: when other kids can be back there and what they’re allowed to take up on the fort and how long they’re allowed to stay. But I don’t know how to go about making those rules, let alone how to disseminate them. The whole thing makes me feel pretty pathetic.
It’s not just playing outside that I can’t handle. I get anxious when there are uninvited people in my house. Last weekend, Zoo Keeper came inside while I was watching TV and asked if he could bring his friend in for a tour of the house. I said yes, then retreated to my office, eventually donning headphones because I couldn’t take the noise of the kids playing.
Here’s the other thing: I want to be THAT mom. You know the one. Everyone calls her Mom and she feeds the whole neighborhood as all the kids come through her house. She’s always ready for company, welcoming everyone with a gracious smile.
But I’ll never be her. I can’t; I don’t have it in me. I’m too introverted. Too sensitive to noise and chaos. Too rigid in my ways. Too anxious. I’d be a much better grouchy old man yelling at the kids to get off my lawn.
I need to accept that I’m not a social mom, but I don’t know how to reconcile who I am with who I want to be. No, that’s not quite right. I don’t want to be her exactly; I want to be her for my kids. I want my kids to have a great social experience in the neighborhood. For our family’s sake, I don’t want the neighborhood thinking I’m weird and antisocial.
I have to figure out how to strike a balance between the social mom world and my own needs, but I can’t think when it’s going on and I’m overstimulated. I can’t think now, either, so I’m going to go watch TV with Sparky. Maybe I’ll figure it out tomorrow. Or not.