I’m an introverted mom. A few weeks ago, I took my son to the playground for the first time ever. He is 13 months old. The summer months have drawn long and we have had more than enough time, but for some reason, I never thought that the playground would be a monumental experience for my child. I felt like I had deprived him—seeing the excitement on his face as he swung on a swing for the first time and slid down the slide. And the look of longingness in his eyes as he watched all the other kids play from afar.
I had deprived him. Because as an antisocial mom, I let my social unease get the best of me.
And therefore, it got the best of my kid, too. It kept him from enjoying the thrill of playfulness amongst other children. The screams and screeches that filled the park into dusk hours. The setting sun and tired parents having to pry their kids off the monkey bars after one last go before heading home.
When the realization struck me, it hit me hard. Because it wasn’t only the playground experience that I had deprived my son of—it was playdates and quality time with family and friends. It was meeting new people and making memories that existed outside of our home, outside of his relationship with me and his dad.
My social anxiety hindered my desire to go anywhere. I felt comfortable being a homebody. I didn’t reach out to schedule playdates and I didn’t make much of an attempt to visit family as I could have. I figured that beyond the few check-ins from people here and there, we were fine on our own.
But we weren’t fine. I was being selfish in a way that I couldn’t even comprehend.
I see how animated and lively his personality is—and I realize that there is no way I can truly nurture that by keeping him confined to the walls of our home.
I hadn’t thought about how my homebody tendencies were keeping my son from building relationships and creating memories outside of our home, with other people.
I’ve considered myself introverted since adolescence, and I didn’t realize how that would carry over into motherhood. My social anxiety followed me everywhere I went and I seemed to have a harder time making friends than my peers. I never felt like I fit in or truly belonged anywhere—a feeling that I sadly still carry with me to this day.
But I don’t want my son to have that same experience. Because it is lonely and daunting. I don’t want to stunt his opportunity to be outgoing and extroverted. Right now, I see how exuberant he gets just in the presence of other children. I see how animated and lively his personality is—and I realize that there is no way I can truly nurture that by keeping him confined to the walls of our home.
So in this season, I am working on breaking out of my shell. Not only for my kid’s sake, but for mine also. I want him to have the same experiences that shaped my childhood and made those years memorable—before I became ridden with social unease.
The days at the park. Making a new friend. Having playdates. Running lemonade stands and riding bikes through the neighborhood.
But I want to learn how to fall in love with those things again as well—making new friends, setting up playdates for our kids, walking through the neighborhood and just simply enjoying connection.
For any mama, being a mom with social anxiety isn’t easy—especially when you’re raising outgoing kids.
My antisocial mom status has kept us in the house more days than I’d like to admit. It has kept my son from experiences and relationships.
Because I want my child to experience the richness of community and connection—in spite of my antisocial personality.
I don’t want to be labeled as the introverted mom that never let her kid do anything. I don’t want to be seen as the mom who wouldn’t go out of her way to create relationships that could be beneficial to not only her but to her child as well. I don’t want to be that mom.
Since that day at the park a few weeks ago, I’ve started taking my son to the playground more often. I’ve reached out to almost every friend with a kid and have set up playdates. Because I want my child to experience the richness of community and connection—in spite of my antisocial personality.
I don’t ever want to see that look of longingness in his eyes as he watches other kids play amongst each other. I want to hear the joy through his laughter as he joins in—and as I sit back and watch his bubbling personality overflow. I may consider myself an introverted mom, but truly, my son’s outgoing personality might just teach me a thing or two—and I am willing to learn.