Socialization (or why talking to people is icky)

I have never been good at socialization, but lately I’ve gotten very rusty. I can hold a conversation,* but taking things past a conversation to a relationship is just mind-bogglingly difficult.

Part of my issue is the inherent competition you encounter with some people. Especially (but not exclusively) among women. I just can’t deal with that sort of thing. I am who I am, where I am now. Some things are going well, and some not so well. That’s life. I’m not into comparing where I am to where other people are; I don’t have the energy for that. It’s all I can do to stop comparing myself to how I used to be. I’d love to find people who are interested in doing things, not just watching things. I find that when people focus more on what they can do, they stop competing with others so much.

Part of my issue is where I am in life. When you have small children, it’s almost impossible to socialize with someone unless they do, too. It’s not a matter of people’s feelings towards children – I’m talking strict logistics here. It takes me 4 hours to leave the house most days, and if one of the kids is having a bad day, I just pack it up and go back home.

I have a few friends online who are roughly where I am (40ish with kids under the age of 5), but none local. And it would be really nice to have someone to chat with face to face once in a while. As far as I can tell, there aren’t a lot of people around here in my demographic. Most moms around here with littles are younger – young enough to be my kids, really. It’s not that I have problems with younger friends, it’s that they aren’t in the same place I am. I have to do all my socializing in the evenings or on weekends because I work. Whereas younger moms are likely to work either odd hours or none at all; they are busy during the evening and on weekends, and prefer to socialize during the day when they are free.

And then there’s the fact that these two problems intersect…a lot. Moms can be judgy, to say the least. Nothing gets my dander up faster than someone even looking at me cross-eyed for how I am raising my children. (Though just know, moms who threaten to beat their children, that I am totally giving you the stink-eye. None of us are immune, I guess, from the judgy.) Add to that the fact that Anya has some speech delays and is big for her age, and there is a high probability that these sorts of moms (okay, these sorts of people) are quick to decide she is “special” and yank their kids away from her like it’s catching. When she is actually incredibly intelligent and misses nothing, so thanks for giving me something else I have to try to explain to her, you miserable wretch.

Despite all this, I long for a mom friend. Someone I could talk to about things that my childless friends just don’t get. Things I can’t discuss with my own mother, because there are just some things she’s not the best sounding board for.

Befriending another mom would also bring playmates for my kids. If they got along, that is. And that would be wonderful for all of us; my kids would love to have friends. As it stands now, it looks like Anya will have to wait until she starts preschool to make friends. She needs to be around kids her age. She is an extremely gregarious and charming girl, but her tactics don’t work on children. Adults are taken in by this sweet, smartly dressed girl who makes eye contact, introduces herself, and compliments them on some aspect of their appearance. Children, perhaps too deeply steeped in Stranger Danger, are taken aback, and typically (though not always, thankfully) retreat, eyeing her like she is a freak. If perchance one of them responds kindly to her advances, she immediately deems them her friend. That, too, is met with mixed emotions.

She wants so badly to make friends. Worse than I do, certainly. And I want that for her. I want her to play and bond and enjoy the company of kids her own age, even though it will take her away from me. I have in the past had great friends of my own, and would not deny her that. But…how? It just seems so damned hard to make friends in this day and age. For all of us.

Was it always this hard? Is it really as hard as it seems now?

 

*If someone else starts the conversation, that is. I apparently lost my ability to start a conversation when I quit smoking. Making friends was easier when I smoked, for some weird reason. And even then I sucked at it.

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