Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Why do I care about disappointing someone I don't even know? (updated)

I'm exhausted.  But as I walked into the kitchen to get a glass of water before bed, I was struck with a thought and it became the title of this post.

I realized last night that my gray hair is not the only thing giving my age away, it is also the fact that I drank coffee at 6pm and couldn't fall asleep until 2 (my coffee cut off used to be 7pm and I could fall asleep easy at midnight).  N got me up at 7 this morning and 5 hours is just 1 hour short of enough to function for me.  I've been off all day. 

I've mentioned here before that I don't have a huge circle of friends.  Two women who could be sisters to me and a small handful of buddies I enjoy a lunch date (or play date) with.  I'm happy with that.  Very happy.  And try as I have to fit in with play groups and moms at story time, I haven't really felt like I fit in as easily as it appears other women do.

This afternoon I needed a few things at the grocery store and decided to hit the store closest to the new children's museum for N to burn off some energy before I dragged him shopping.  The few times we've been to the museum I've only made a few friendly comments to other mothers, asking ages of their children or other passing small talk, so it was a surprise today to have a young mother start talking to me with as much openness as a friend.  

She was sweet and friendly and I felt big and awkward.  I always do.  I'm on the tall side and no one would ever describe me as dainty.  I'm not overweight, but have those pounds that we would all like to lose.  My voice is not high and girly, much more soft and low and...well, lets just say more than a couple people have told me I could answer 1-900 calls as a profession.  I like my voice much more now, but I vividly remember my attempts to make conversation in a high school cafeteria or hallway were often met with, "What?" and "I can't hear you."  

Anyway, so there I was, off to the side, watching my son run and play and smiling as I see my little baby run over bridge and scream with sheer delight.  I couldn't help myself and despite my own awkwardness, I said to the woman next to me, "Wow, he sure loves this bridge."  

With those 6 words, I opened the door.  I opened the door to conversation, to small talk, to potential rejection or even the possibility of friendship.  She took that opening and swung it wide, making a huge effort to engage me in conversation.  It was as deep as we could get while chasing two toddlers and both of us as first time, stay at home moms with sons, we connected in a way that I'm not used to.  Before we had even exchanged names, we exchanged numbers and before I knew it, she was inviting me and N and C to her son's first birthday party in two weeks from now.  At the time it seemed like such a sweet invite, opening her life to me and wanting my son to share in the fun of face painting from a guy dressed up like Elmo.  But wait, she doesn't know me at all.  She might be disappointed.  She blindly trusts that we would come to her party and fit in with her family and friends and that we won't steal anything from her house or leave a dirty diaper on the floor.  How could she possibly know that I'm not a nut?  Nuts take their kids to the museum too.  Maybe she is a nut?  

I left with the plan that she would call me to get my address to send a birthday party invite.  I felt like I was saying yes without really thinking about it.  Saying yes with the thought that I could always come back with a no.  N and I met C for dinner and to be honest, I forgot about the plan for her to call and not until I heard her voice mail remembered and then some doubt kicked up.  I hate to disappoint though and called her back and gave her our address and as she started inviting us for another play date, the thought crossed my mind that this was all moving a little fast for me.  I know her for 20 minutes of real life time.  It is not even like story time where we have gone for a few weeks in a row and slowly gotten to know each other.  All of a sudden I feel like we are going to be the guests of honor at the cult of Elmo.  Then, she invited us to come to her house to for dinner, so we could get to know them before spending the day with her family at a party.  I appreciated the gesture, but as she tried to get me to lock in an evening in the next few days, I felt a bit like I was choking.  I was ready to back pedal, remembering some appointment or visitor or anything to back out of the whole thing.  I wanted a redo to slow things way down.  And that feeling became even stronger when I came home tonight and found a facebook friend request from her.  

Maybe I am being too closed off.  Maybe it is one of those moments that we will look back on and say, "I'm so glad we became best friends in 20 minutes on the floor of the children's museum."  Maybe I should take a cue from my baby who instantly becomes friends with whoever is holding the toy he wants to play with right before he yanks it out of their hand.  Maybe it doesn't matter if I back off and slow this down since if we are meant to be friends whether or not I went to her son's first birthday party is irrelevant.  Maybe I am too tired to make a good decision right now.  

Maybe I should be true to myself and make decisions based on what I need and want and not what I think other people want.  Thinking about it, why would I want to spend some hard to come by free time with virtual strangers?  Will my son remember or care about a sweaty dude dressed up like Elmo?  Who am I really doing this for?  Am I doing this because I think I should branch out?  Why do I care about disappointing someone I barely know?  Should I step out of my comfort zone?  

What if I get rejected?  

Hey friends,
I ended up calling her this morning and she was just as sweet as she was yesterday.  Even when I explained that while we wouldn't be able to make the party or dinner in the next few days, that I would LOVE to meet up again at the museum with our babies next week.  We plan to talk early next week to pick a day.  I'm MUCH more comfortable with this plan.  

I realized tonight that perhaps that one of the reasons I feel awkward, the reason I hesitate might have come from an old relationship.  One where when the guy who seemed so head over heels for me, after he flew me to come visit him for the weekend, turned his back and rejected me when he got to know more about the real me.  In the course of a weekend, he started walking ahead of me, he read the paper while we had breakfast, he acted like he couldn't wait for me to leave after he had worked so hard to get me there. (As a side note...sweet victory when I got to reject his friend request on facebook...)  Anyway, that thought crossed my mind tonight as a possible reason for that lingering awkwardness and fear of further rejection of the real me.  


  1. Maybe she's lonely, doesn't have many friend either? Socially inept, or at least feels like it, and thus LEAPT at the chance that someone talked to her? I've felt like that, often. I would never invite anyone over, though, because I'd be afraid they'd never show up. Or ask them to call me, because I'd be afraid they wouldn't and then I'd be disappointed.

    Do what's right for you, but ALSO try to step outside your comfort zone. It's part of our job as parents to socialize our kids, I think, and for those of us who are hermits (like the husband and I) that can be really really hard. But the kids NEED it.

    I will say she seems rather...intense, and needy. Which signals desperation to me, but aren't we all, sometimes?

  2. I am another lonely mother that would love for a new friend. Not many people chat with me and I am so busy with big kids and the babies that it is hard to attend regular 'story times'. I would love for someone to have a great conversation with me randomly and I might actually call them the next day if I lucked out and we traded numbers. If you are uncomfortable going to her place, that is fine, then don't. Instead meet in public again, but don't just blow her off she is trying hard and deserves a chance.

  3. I tend to avoid mom groups because I end up coming away from them intidated and guilt-ridden, and yet I would love to make some IRL mummy-friends. I know I would love to meet another mom in a more organic way like that... and I'm sure I would come away from such an encounter kind of wondering too. I'm curious to find out what you'll decide...

    ICLW #7

  4. I always have a bit of self-doubt in situations like that. Just trust your best judgement and who knows you might end up making a really good friend.

    ICLW #41

  5. Hello from ICLW! Agree with above poster. You never know where or when you will make a friend.

  6. Stopping in for ICLW. I love this post and can relate so well. I'm shy, timid, and super insecure so I tend to panic in social situations, especially if they take place at someone's house. However, lately, I've been trying to live by the rule "never say no to an opportunity" and it has opened me up to so many new things -- experiences, memories, and friends. That being said, though, I'm glad you were able to recognize what you were and were not comfortable with and find something that worked for both of you. I hope it's a friendship-in-the-making!

  7. I so understand what you are saying... it's so difficult to get up the courage and speak. I'm glad that you found a way to see her again, but within your comfort zone. I hope it's something that in future you can look back on and rejoice in a new friendship.