Lazy Mom’s Guide to Overcoming (your own) Anti-Social Behavior

ritas_150On the last day of school, my son was so excited for summer that he practically bounced over to me as he left his teacher’s hug. “What kind of fun will we be having, Mama? Who will be there?”

I didn’t know. I hadn’t planned anything.

His excited and happy eyes waited expectantly, and my mind flipped frantically through the rolodex of ideas fueled by Pinterest and “Last Day of School!” blog posts and my own goals as a Mom.

We ended up at Rita’s, cooling off with Alex’s Lemonade Italian Ices. He was excited, happy, satisfied. This was a Treat!

“I love the last day of school, Mama. Thank you for bringing me here.”

We laughed and talked about school and what the summer would bring. It was perfect. We were excited, happy, satisfied.

Then, after the kids were in bed. After the scolding about toothbrushing and not hitting your sister and please just be quiet had faded. I saw other people’s Last Day of School photos. And those people were with other people, and those people’s kids were with other people’s kids.

Photos of groups of four and six and seven smiling faces at the playground and at the pool and in someone’s backyard taunted me. “We’re social!” they screamed. “Our kids love to hang out!” they teased. “My kid is much happier than yours is. And he’ll always be more happy!” they flaunted.

That it hadn’t even occurred to me to make plans before the Last Day of School was evidence of my failings. That I had taken my excited and expectant little boy to get an Italian Ice instead of doing something social, something with other people, reminded me of my selfish nature. I know I could be a better Mom, at least when it comes to being social. But I’m tired. And I’m shy. And I judge. And I know that I am judged.

Mostly it’s because I’m tired and shy. Since I have a hard time getting the energy up to be social, it affects my exuberant and friendly son’s social life. And that’s not fair. It would be different if he didn’t want to be social for Last Day of School. It would be different if I had a better excuse than laziness for my anti-social choices. It would be different if I didn’t feel so miserable when confronted with the social animals all around us. It would be different if I didn’t care.

Resolved: This summer will be different. I will not err on the side of ease and convenience. I will “get out” more with the kids. I will stop using the “We moved to the suburbs for a backyard, so that’s where they’ll play” excuse. I will face my fear of rejection and awkward encounters in favor of healthy social relationships for my children.

And if it doesn’t work out, there’s always Rita’s Italian Ice.

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About That Unique* Weblog

Adjusting to the car culture, dealing with leaving a career I love, and spouting off along the way.
This entry was posted in Lazy Mom, Parenthood, People are Good, People do silly things, random observation, Suburban Life and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to Lazy Mom’s Guide to Overcoming (your own) Anti-Social Behavior

  1. Melanie L. says:

    Aw. I think I can put a positive spin on this. If your son is naturally exuberant and friendly without any help from anyone, then he doesn’t need a mom who can indulge that side of him. He can do that well enough on his own. Maybe it would be different if he were shy or awkward. But he’s not. He’s got those skills down pat. He needs you to be exactly as you are to get a view from the other side, to develop empathy, and to be reminded to slow down and smell the backyard sometimes. Maybe you’re being too hard on yourself! (That was meant to be a supportive pep talk and came off sounding like judgy mcjudgerson soooo yeah I might not be helping here.)

  2. gem says:

    Oh my I hear you. I’ve dropped out of every social thing, from my own attempts at ballet class at age 6 to mommy and me classes now. I always feel like the third wheel, awkward in groups. But I’m trying to try to try and be more social for my kids’ sakes.

    • Yes. It’s tough, but I believe there IS a way to do what’s best for the kiddos and maintain one’s own personality. We count too, but my view of parenting is that it includes making adjustments for the little ones. (I almost said sacrifices, but that wasn’t quite what I was getting at.)

  3. April C. says:

    I’m in that same boat. Or at least on the same lake. Like you, I vowed that the summer will be full of experiences. Things that are fun and new for both of us without getting too crazy. She’s a year old so I don’t know if it’s easier or harder than an older child but I guess I’ll find out.

    • I like that you went from boat to lake…a true anti-social tactic. 😉

      It gets harder — mostly because the kids start voicing their preferences for certain friends. And those friends come with parents!

  4. I blame my schedule for why we don’t do more things. But even if I didn’t have to work, I feel like I’d find excuses. Let’s get together with the kids and let them play. Then we can be social without being uncomfortable.

  5. mamarific says:

    I think we were best friends in a previous life. I so feel you here. I often have the idea to plan a play date, or hit the park or library with the kids, but end up at home because I don’t feel like dealing with the inevitable adult social interaction that will surely arise. I am trying to do better this summer, too.

    • I mentioned this in another comment, but I DO think it’s possible to be fair to the kid without losing your own personality. I LIKE being a loner. It’s served me well. But I think I will be more happy with the occasional group event with others — and they can definitely be fun!

  6. It’s OK to have those quiet celebrations, too. I barely remember to take my kids pictures on the first day of school, never do it on the last, and do NOT celebrate the last day of school with a party. It’s a freaking hallmark thing. “How can we get people to spend money? AHA, another consumer holiday is born.”

    • I’m not sure Hallmark had a lot to do with it — and I think I spent more money than the people that met up at the playground. But I hear you on the lack of enthusiasm to create moments that are Pinterest-worthy.

  7. blainecindy says:

    I absolutely know what you’re talking about. I’ve always been a sort of shy person, too. My husband has always been the one who can talk to anyone, but I’m just not like him. I tend to shy away from the social interactions and sometimes I’ve felt as though maybe my kids have had to pay for it, too. So I hear you, loud and clear. I was lucky, though, my son and oldest daughter were very outgoing and did enough socializing on their own and my youngest daughter tagged along. I think kids find their own way eventually.

  8. Jen says:

    Today is my son’s last day of school and I’ve been sitting here the entire day meeting a deadline for a magazine. I feel you entirely with this whole thing. And we have the whole summer to find stuff to do, right? 🙂

  9. wcdameron says:

    Oh, if I had a dollar for every parenting mistake I thought I made….My kids are in their twenties now and its funny, all of those little things I thought I did wrong, they don’t remember. Your child seems happy and satisfied. That is the goal, no matter how you attain it. And? Don’t believe half to three quarters of what you see on Facebook, Pinterest, etc. Everyone is putting their best selfies forward there. What’s important is what happens after the camera shutter clicks…

  10. Linda Roy says:

    Oh, I hate that; the ideals perpetuated by society through Facebook and Pinterest and everything else, that was could and should be having a better time, a more special time, an epic time. It sounds like your son had a really nice time going to Rita’s. But I relate so much to your post. I’m tired and shy too. And I don’t fit in with the other suburban moms. In fact, after years of trying to fit in when my oldest son was growing up, and being miserable about it, I’ve decided not to sweat it while my youngest is in school. And I’ve noticed the same thing you have. It’s affected his social life. Not as many play dates, more time spent here at home. I’ve vowed to change that this summer too. But I’m going to try not to guilt myself too much when I see the spectacular things others are doing. It’s not going to be easy. 😉 Have a great summer!

    • I already made it to the town pool once AND I have had two very pleasant and active outings with his friends. So far, we’ve both been having fun. I think that’s the key — opening up to opportunities, but on my own terms. Enjoy summer!

  11. Stacie says:

    We never plan for the last day of school either (although this year we dragged Shane to his brother’s graduation!). I think your afternoon was perfect!

  12. saroful says:

    Just because he’d also be happy doing something else doesn’t mean he’s not happy. Trust me- the time will come soon enough that he’ll make his own plans, vanish to social events and friends’ houses for hours, with much less of the struggle to interact with the other parents because, you know.. um… I’ll be at Rita’s if you’re looking for me.

  13. Jenn Berney says:

    Like other parents who’ve responded here, i so identified. My son is *always* asking for a play date, even if it’s, like, 6 pm after a day of preschool. Last week I was so relieved when, on a Saturday night he told me: “I just want to stay home all day tomorrow and build Legos.”

  14. TMW Hickman says:

    I have the most extroverted child on the planet, and at the end of the day I am so tired of being around people that home is where we go. Your afternoon was perfect for the two of you, and that’s okay. I learned a long time ago that you cannot compare yourself to other mothers with their “perfect” lives–that way lies madness. Just do your very best, and that will have to be enough. Your son knows that you love him, and he is social enough that he is not being held back in any way. If you still want to mingle on your own terms, then sign him up for a swimming class or soccer. You will find yourself sitting amongst a group of people without having an obligation to speak to them. That has worked for me!

  15. innatejames says:

    i feel for you, but I also think you’re being hard on yourself. Sounds like your son was happy with Rita’s. Sometimes Rita’s is enough.

  16. Kathy Berney says:

    You’re doing a great job. And you are who you are. Even the shadow doesn’t know what’s lurks behind those online pictures of super social families. Sometimes they are people really invested in appearances. The last day of school is its own reward. Italian ice with Mom is a memorable bonus.

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