Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Hermit vs Social Butterfly – Finding a Balance for a Natural Homebody

Today Mouse goes back to school and it’s also her first “lunch” day at school. I have packed my first, of what I’m sure will be many, lunch. She likely won’t “eat” it, but that’s a whole other ball of wax. Regardless, she’s excited to be going back to school and I’m excited for her.

Although that sounds cruel; like I want to be rid of her; it’s not really what I mean. I'm happy that she's going to be with other kids and have something different to do.

Yesterday we were all getting on each other’s nerves. A lot. It was not fun. There was pulling of hair (Baboo), temper tantrums and “diva” behavior (Mouse) and gnashing of teeth, rending of clothing (uh, me). I was trying to figure out why I we were all so cranky. I knew it wasn’t just because Mouse and I were still a bit under the weather or that I was PMSing , though those are all factors, of course. I realized that we have been together pretty much 24 hours for the last WEEK. Mouse only had one day of school last week because of the holiday. We had a very low key holiday and generally we’ve had a good week, however, then the “cold” hit, so no WONDER we’re all ready to duke it out.

We have been “out” – shopping and such but until last night, when I hosted our school board meeting, we haven’t had direct contact with any other people. I freaked out for a bit there when all of this dawned on me. What kind of parent am I? Keeping my kids locked away and not bothering to plan any play dates or outings! Good grief.

And here’s where I struggle. Generally, I have so much to do around the house – cleaning/organizing/cooking/bills; and now all the holiday related stuff (gifts/cards/decorating etc) . Save my usual errands (groceries/etc), I really don’t “get out” much. I’m a natural homebody and am mostly happy to putter around the house. However, if I do it for too long, I kind of forget about dealing with real people in the outside world. I tend to live a lot in my head, planning and figuring out what comes next and I sometimes forget to check in with reality. My grandmother, my Mum and I think, had a form of agoraphobia. I wonder sometimes if I do too.

Before we moved, and for the first time in my life really, we were a part of a big playgroup. It was a unique group of families – we all just really gelled. The kids got along well, there was always someone to “meet up with” – at a park, library or for coffee. We planned Mom only outings and I had (well, still have but only from a distance) a fantastic circle of friends. I didn’t have to think too hard about getting the girls out to socialize because we were always getting out there.

Now that we’ve moved, we’ve been so busy getting our lives restarted and getting Mouse settled into school that I really haven’t done much about setting up play dates – for myself or for the girls. I’m feeling guilty about it; and selfish for not thinking about them more carefully too.

At heart, I'm a very shy person. Those who know me have a hard time believing that, I know, but I have to muster up a lot of energy and courage before I open a line of communication with most people. I think that holds me back from approaching people, even when it comes to talking to other parents. I do think I'm getting better at it and most of the time try to be conscious about setting an example to the girls on how to get out there and meet people. But it's a challenge for me.

I also have a really hard time asking other people to watch or entertain my kids. I feel like I'm imposing on other people's time -so even for a playdate, which is often mutally beneficial for parents and all kids involved, I consider it a "babysitting" type of thing. However, I have no problem watching other kids, for play dates or otherwise.

Today, I had some extra time with Mouse being in school a bit longer, I decided to come home and do some work instead of going out. However, when dropping her off another Mom asked about a play date for next week and I immediately said YES. So we’re setting one up for next week. I’m going to make a point to ask people over and to suggest meeting up, even for an hour, after school. There’s a little girl next door and I’ll make a point of asking more often for play dates and a good friend has joined us out in “midwestish –ville” and I’ve already asked if she wanted to do a Mom’s coffee/lunch out. I’m also planning to scope out a “not too expensive” class for the girls to do in January. I’m not sure what the balance will be, twice a week? I guess I’ll just have to give it a go and see what happens. ANYTHING has got to be better than NOTHING.

I feel a bit like I’ve been a turtle lately, keeping my head in my shell and plodding along, just trying to get us to point B, C, D… but now that we’re in a pretty good place routine wise, I think it’s time to start sticking my neck out and checking out what’s going on around us.

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