You’d think, a grown up Mother of three, could deposit a child at school with minimal issue. That it should be no great shakes to divest oneself of one’s eldest offspring for the day, without embarking on an existential crisis of personality, before we’ve even hit 9am. Well, apparently, you’d be wrong.
The playground hasn’t changed much. Or perhaps it’s me that hasn’t changed. I’m still the shy, awkward child (minus the glasses and sizeable ears) that I thought I’d long since left behind. I thought I had my shit together now. There have been times I’ve even imagined going back to school. Doing it all over again, and smashing it. How, this time, I’d let any name-calling and snide comments glide over me, like water off a duck’s back. How I’d prioritise learning, over desperately trying to be a part of the “in” crowd. How I’d be so much more relaxed, knowing that none of it really matters, in the grand scheme of things. How I wouldn’t waste a minute of my time, kicking myself over my perceived inability to get people to like me.
In uni, I blossomed. I finally overcame my social anxieties and I flourished. My social bubble was still on the small side, but I didn’t care. The friends I had, were the only friends I needed. After that, I went straight into the world of work, practically effervescing with confidence. My social circle grew. My conversing talents expanded. I bought my own home, I enjoyed my job and I had become a part of the most incredible friendship group. But my sudden, motherhood-induced, career break, took me in a different direction to them. Our lives forked and our paths couldn’t have been more divergent. The years since my first-born arrived have seen me gradually reversing myself deep inside my shell. And so, when I stepped back onto the school yard again, ten years since I was last in one; I realised, nothing much had changed. I’m still shy. I’m still awkward. And I still suffer that same perceived inability to get people to like me.
Becoming a school Mum has brought to the fore a whole load of insecurities that I didn’t even realise I had. I’m not an extrovert person (despite the Performing Arts degree – go figure). I find it difficult to approach people. I’m a lurker, standing on the fringes, waiting for someone to invite me in. Over the last year, I’ve watched as crowds of mums have built new friendships, arranged meet-ups and group chats and playdates. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a complete loner. There are a few that I consider friends and there is the occasional extra curricular social. But it’s rare. I come away from most conversations, cursing my vocal ineptitude. The way I stumble over my words, or struggle to think of anything to say. Did I talk to much? Did I ask them enough about themselves? Was my joke tasteless? Am I boring? Weird? Surrounded by errant tumbleweeds?
Last year, as we watched two of Daisy’s friends bound into a house together, she asked me sadly, “why do I never get invited to anyone’s house for tea?” Well, if I’m honest, it’s because it never occurred to me when she started school, that it wasn’t just her that was expected to meet new peple and make new friends. It was me too. And I was crap at it. Still am.
And that’s where I’m at. I’m insecure in my abilities to make friends. To hold conversations. To be interesting and witty and the type of mum that can simply stroll into the playground and spark up a chat with whomever just happens to be there. I know I’m not setting the best example to my children. I know it infuriates the Spouse (it infuriates me too). And I know it’s something that I need to work on. Because, as I’ve learnt, it’s not just how my children are coping with school that’s important. I need to make sure I’m coping with it too.