You’re not the only mom to Drive up, kiss goodbye, drop off, drive away. Repeat.
I’ve been doing this for over 3 years now. Some of you for longer than a decade. Some of you just did it for the first time last month, and some of you are counting down the seasons until it’s your turn to do it.
Moms, dads, grandparents, carpools, friends of friends…we ALL fall privy to this concept. Even the homeschool parents do coop days where their children go to class with other kids...and they’re left with The other Moms.
This isn’t a sappy story about giving over our parental rights from 8-4 everyday and it’s not a rant about the extensive amount of work/responsibility placed on our small children (although that’s not a bad idea for the future)
No, no…this is about something we ignore and pretend we aren’t aware of. The Loner Mom
She drives to school events, volunteer shifts, and playdates with a nervous excitement in her. She wants this to go well and she wants to feel apart of whatever it is she’s going to.
She arrives at her destination to see a couple of moms sitting at a table talking…a couple others standing to the side talking..and she isn’t sure where she should go. So she chooses one.
“The tables look nice, at least I can sit.”
She sits. She says hi, asks a couple questions and then it falls flat, because the other moms were already taking about something that she wasn’t part of. So she checks her phone and looks around until her kid comes out of class, where she enthusiastically gets up, hugs her baby, and walks away holding hands with her child feeling more “at home” than she thought possible in this setting.
Here’s the thing….this mom…she’s me. I am her.
I’ve left my daughter’s school, hand in hand, smiling ear to ear, silently thanking God for her companionship and memorizing the feeling so that when she’s too old to hold hands and tell mommy about every inch of her day, I can recall these sweet moments.
I’ve looked at the moms at school and said to myself “Wow, I clearly do NOT belong here”…
I’ve gone to parties and sat with all the kids because I didn't feel comfortable sitting with the moms.
The story could end there. "I’m socially awkward, it doesn’t suck as badly as it sounds, I have friends in other settings…this is life."
But it doesn’t. This can’t be the end for any of us mom’s!
One day I was talking to my best friend (our kids started school together and then they went to a new school…so now we’re doing this mom thing together but apart…) and she said to me:
“What if all the other mom’s feel the same way we do?”
I thought about that. Thought about my specific “moms”…i pictured them talking, i pictured the ones who, like me, sit alone and wait for their kids….and I realized that she was right. Either they currently feel this way, or they have felt it and overcame it…either way, it’s not just me.
And it’s not just you.
The problem is, we fail to see that we are the only ones who can fix it. As women and moms and parents in general we have to stop waiting for someone to make the first move. Stop feeling sorry for yourself or telling yourself you don’t belong.
Some of these mom’s have older kids who’ve known each other for years, some go to church together…and they don’t know how to bring a newcomer into the inner circle anymore than I know how to become a newcomer to the inner circle.
So what do we do? There has to be SOMETHING, especially in the presence of Christians, that can break down these walls and build up friendships.
I don’t know for sure, I’m still navigating this awkward stuff, but I think the answer is simple:
Stop thinking about yourself and start thinking of others.
My daughter’s in 3rd grade now so I’m starting to become close with a few of these moms…and here’s how it happened:
One day at a time, one event at a time, one mom at a time…I began to reach out to people in ways that goes beyond the surface. To put them and their interests above my own. I began to open myself up to the idea that… “I’m already in the inner circle, now it’s time to act like it” (i think that inner circle we talk about doesn’t even exist..ya know??)…If I don’t’ learn to talk and gab and ask questions, I’ll be stuck in awkward for the next, what? 20 years? No thank you!
One mom in particular… I noticed that she was particularly wise and kind and knowledgable about the school “goings on”..so she became my go to person for help, random questions, and general information when our girls were in kindergarten. We didn’t hang out or even gravitate to one another...and still don’t really, but, we have gone from total strangers to actual, real friends.
Two weeks ago I shared in a group thread that homework was stressing me out (y’all, it was BAD) and when she saw me the next day, not only did she ask me how I was…but she hugged me. In that moment, behind my sunglasses, I just cried into her hug, thankful for someone who understood my overwhelmed mama heart. That moment wouldn’t have been possible without 2 people willing to let go of egos and status and just love each other above themselves.
This is only 1 example of the give and take that it requires to exit the awkward zone and enter into the “crying in your arms” zone. (Ok, maybe you don’t want to be THAT comfortable with your moms…)
Are there are times where I still feel awkward and out of place? YES! But that’s when I dig my heels in, try to know these women, and give them a chance to know and see the real me, instead of pick up my phone and hide to escape the awkward moment.
None of us have it all together, we all wake up and hit snooze, pack lunches and forget water bottles on occasion. We all spill coffee as we rush our late kids to the drop off line (no? just me? oh.....) We are truly in this together, and it takes someone or a group of someones to commit to loving on those around them instead of acting like they’re not sitting over there alone. You might catch yourself in the group one day (lucky lucky you), and you’ll see a mom to the side playing on her phone. I encourage you to walk up to that mom and ask her how the semester is going for her and her family. It’s gotta start somewhere...why not with you?
I want to end on this note....I love MY moms. The 3rd grade moms that I’ve birthday partied it up with, ranted about homework with, swam with, babysat for, planned fundraisers with, run ins at the nail salon that turns into girl time...I love you all..and your kids! I’m thankful we have each other to do life with!