I forgot how to talk to adults

Before the pandemic I was a social butterfly, now I can't even keep up with casual conversations.

Mom and son
Twenty20/@KonstantinAksenov

Back when things were normal my schedule was busy. Like back-to-back work meetings and then networking events for myself, playdates for my toddler, and of course dinners and drinks out with my friends. I also would make time for taking care of myself with pilates and regular pedicures. I was talking all day every day, something I love to do (I mean, I am a journalist, after all, words are my jam).

Then the pandemic happened and we all adapted to having Zoom birthdays and FaceTiming friends and family. My husband and I made a point to have something happening with our friends every week to stay in touch. Slowly though, and primarily because I'm tired of staring at a screen all day, it fizzled out. Now my husband is the only adult I talk to on a daily basis.

However, I still do a lot of talking. It's just not with adults. I clap and celebrate when my twins take little steps without holding onto anything. You can hear me making a lot of animal noises to get them to connect the dots. I also talk to my toddler about what his day at school looked like and try to decipher what actually happened and what is part of his imagination. There's a lot of yay's and woo's in my phrases. I don't baby talk, but... I also don't adult talk?

This was even more evident when we went out for dinner recently for our toddler's third birthday, something we've done maybe a handful of times since the pandemic started. The server made casual conversation with us and I was just... awkward. So awkward I made myself cringe because I didn't recognize the person I've become. I, the one who has friends everywhere and had planned every single night now cannot reply to simple questions without being a total weirdo.

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I see it happening at school pick-up, where other parents chat about what their kids are doing and I just cannot keep up with casual chit-chat. I either overshare in excitement because I'm finally talking to someone who is going through the same, or under-engage because I worry that they might think I'm hanging back too long, while also calculating if I'm 6 feet away and can they actually hear me through my double mask?

This makes me wonder, am I the only one struggling with social skills?

I was too focused on making sure my children were not deeply affected by the isolation caused by the pandemic. I made sure they had activities, they got outside time even when it was dumping snow, that they were engaged, and all the millions of other things parents have done in the last year. And yet, somehow in the process of it all I forgot to do the same for myself.

Now with the news of everyone in the US being able to get a vaccine by May 1st, the excitement of seeing friends, traveling, going to visit our father-in-law who hasn't met the twins yet, all. the. things. we. are. going. to. do. It all starts to feel overwhelming because I don't know how to talk to adults anymore.

Don't get me wrong. I need things to go back to normal. Every inch of my body is basically begging for life to be less of what it is now and more of what it used to be. But I think I might need some time to adjust back to it, just like I needed time to adjust to isolation when it all started. And that is something I wasn't expecting.

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