There are a million things I wasn’t prepared for when I became a mom. It also seems like four years into it, there always seems to be something new lurking around the corner. A new twist I didn’t see coming. Something else that was going to make me question my parenting abilities and doubt myself as a mom. This one came in the form of an e-vite to a birthday party.
It sounds silly, and in the grand scheme of things, it really is. But it seems like as my daughter’s social skills have developed at a rapid pace, mine are going rapidly downhill in the other direction. It’s something I didn’t see coming. Something I couldn’t see coming. I grew up as the same social butterfly my daughter is blossoming into. Now, I couldn’t be further from that.
I cringed as soon as I opened the text. My daughter started Pre-K this year, so this was the first in a series of birthday party invites that were to be expected. I wanted so badly to look at our calendar and find that time slot already filled with something I felt much more comfortable with. An activity I could mentally and physically handle. But it wasn’t.
I knew my daughter would love nothing more than to go to that party with her friends. She would thrive. And while it might be challenging in the way many activities are with an overactive child, it would be the highlight of her weekend. I was sure of that.
I was also sure it would send me spiraling. I would worry about it for days. The anxiety of having to make grown-up friends. The anxiety of the unknown—a place I’d never been, with people I barely knew, with a child whose behavior was so extreme and unpredictable, and the anxiety of having to do it alone while my husband works.
So I made a decision—I wouldn’t tell her. She wouldn’t even know it was an option. We would tell the parents we had a prior commitment. Easy enough.
Until another invite came. And another. It took three invites before I finally gave in and agreed to go. Even that morning, I found myself secretly hoping one of us woke up and didn’t feel like going. I knew it wasn’t going to go down like that.
It’s wild how we change. How we grow so much in some ways and go back in others. I never thought of myself as someone who had social anxieties or fears, and yet here I was . . . keeping my child from things she should be doing because of my own fears.
It’s not just the birthday parties. I face the same dilemma with playground trips. Are there going to be other moms there I have to small talk with? Will my daughter act out? When we go, there’s always an exit plan–groceries are being delivered, Daddy’s coming home soon, we’re going to the grandparents’ house.
It’s a constant battle in my mind. I’m constantly worrying (most often unnecessarily) about the next social interaction. But what is a bigger struggle, a bigger worry, is that my daughter is potentially missing out on so much because of me. It would be different if I came back from any of these things panicking that I could never do it again. Most times, I come home and say, “That was just fine.” All that worry for nothing.
It’s the first step out the door that’s the hardest. Or giving that first yes. Allowing myself to be okay with the fact that this is a whole new ball game, and it’s okay to be hesitant and uncomfortable. My daughter is as fearless as they come—physically, emotionally, socially. I don’t ever want her to start to feel like she needs to hold back or stay back because Mommy does.
So for now, I’ll take her lead and try my best to RSVP “YES” to more—more parties, more playgrounds, more potential friends. At the end of the day, it’s what’s best for her. She deserves to have all these opportunities and adventures with her friends even if it makes Mommy uncomfortable. Hopefully, that won’t be the case forever, and we will both continue to grow.