It’s painful being a parent of small social creatures. I have my own social-anxiety demons, and can choose to reject the society of others. Always plagued by panic and waves of uneasiness, phone calls, or casual run-ins, or dinner table small talk is brutal. I’m acutely aware of how awkward we both feel. I want to retract nearly every word uttered. Inane babble is my coping mechanism…and I’m not even good at it. Like a smoker who can’t use a lighter. It’s just, so, uncomfortable.
Most of the time, I can choose to retreat, and occupy my time with other ventures. Crooked quilting. Sewing. Gardening. Closing the circles on my Apple watch. So many different distractions. There are plenty of ways to skin a cat.
In these distractions, I replay the anxious conversations I’ve had. And there are no redeeming bits. I obsess over every awkward word uttered. I mentally re-polish our conversation. I wonder which real moments of these encounters are still salvageable. Probably none of them.
In these distractions, I feel like I’m in a holding room. It’s a run-down-the-clock situation.
But now, I’m Margot’s mom. My beautiful, sensitive, curious, vivacious (almost) 3 year old. Every time she interacts with the world around her, I am dragged in. Sometimes, I go in with optimism. Most of the time, it is terrifying. It is chilling that I am her (role) model for how to become human being.
At some point in my requisite exchanges with Margot’s society (teachers, friends, parents of friends), we will both realize: This is so uncomfortable. We may make it as many as 10 seconds, or 10 minutes, before this mutual conclusion is reached.
Retreating–from everyone–is not an option.
We can’t be cloistered. I want Margot to have friends and go to summer camps and have lemonade stands and run through sprinklers with neighbor kids. I want her to have birthday parties with candles and frosted cake and giggling playmates. I want her to have confidence in this world she navigates.
So buckle up, Margot.
I’m gonna try.