My son recently received his first birthday party invitation. How sweet! I thought to myself, wow, he will be embarking on a new aspect of social engagement. I planned the day and made sure he took a good nap before we arrived. I wanted him to be fresh and in the right mood for meeting new people. In all my preparation, I forgot to prepare myself for how socially awkward these types of events can be for me. Epic fail.
I entered the party about 10 minutes after my son and his father. When I stepped into the backyard, which was full of kids playing and parents chatting, I saw my husband already in deep conversation with another dad. My son was inside the bouncy castle mixing and mingling with kids that were at least three or four times his age. They were immersed and obviously comfortable in the new environment. Me, not so much. The other mommies were sitting in chairs that were pretty much grouped. Most of them had some prior point of reference with one another; their kids were in the same class at Gems or they frequent the same play groups. It was clear that the social links had already been established for this party, and I was not linked in.
As always, everyone looked at me and then over to my husband making the obvious mental note that this brown lady is the wife of that brown man and the mother of that brown baby. But, as always, no one said a word to me. No one smiled, nodded, waved or even gave me the finger. I was a lone island all to myself. I’m also not that outgoing. I made my way over to my kid and engaged him. Once my husband took a breather, he worked the room on his way over to me. He has no problem greeting people, introducing himself and asking them where they are from as a conversation starter. He’ll do it ten times at the same event and truly meet ten new interesting people. Personal engagement in social settings like that is so awkward to me and being a woman does not help. Women, particularly when they’re in groups, can be unwelcoming and I’m just not the type to try out for and acquaintance. If I were there alone, I could have spent the entire time talking only to the children and the hosts. I’m thankful that my husband is a social butterfly. We are complementary in that way; his strength, my weakness. I guess I need to put more effort into socializing myself before the next party invite.