As we get further down the road of mommyhood, life at your kid’s events may feel a bit like a job interview or the first day of school in a new town. I can remember going on the first fall field trip with my son’s preschool group last year; my little boy and I stuck together during his pumpkin patch adventure, and I had a little bit of small talk with a parent here or there. I totally felt like the new kid, realizing that many in the mom crowd appeared to know each other already. Some had attended the school the year before and others had older children who were in elementary school together. They were laughing and chatting about Halloween plans. I had a flashback to my sophomore year of high school where I had just moved to a new state and knew nobody, walking down the long halls, trying to find my locker.
This year is a little easier because there are some familiar faces, but I’m not good at small talk. I hate it, actually. I find it kind of exhausting. But, today we went on pumpkin patch field trip number two and I have to say that I didn’t feel completely like the new mom on the block. I actually signed myself up this year to be the “room parent” because I knew it would force me out of my quiet, reserved comfort zone. It would push me to interact with other parents. Last week I spent much of my free time contacting families to donate goodies for the Halloween celebration next week. I was energized and happy to see how many people truly wanted to contribute and help with my gathering efforts.
It may seem intimidating to enter a room where a bunch of moms and dads already know each other, but this isn’t high school. Sometimes I make assumptions that the two moms who are talking are BFFs, but in reality, they just saw each other at the Starbucks before drop-off and are trading stories about how many times they hit the snooze button. Some of these people are more uncomfortable than I am, but I think it is easy to lose sight of that. Don’t we always assume that everyone else has it all figured out? That we are the ones out of the loop or on the outside? I do that all the time. There were several new parents at the field trip today and I made it a point to speak with at least three of them. It helps create a pleasant foundation for the rest of the year when you are bound to see each other again.
So, this “elite” society of parents at preschool parties, baseball games, and soccer practice isn’t really that way at all. They are just like you. Sure, they might live in the same neighborhood or their kids are buddies outside of school, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for another funny, intelligent parent to gab with (you!). After all, if you are quiet and keep to yourself at school events, they might assume that you don’t want to chat it up with them. In most cases, you only get back what you project to the world.
I’m still working on that one.
How about you? How do you break the ice at school functions and with the mom crowd? How do you break out of your comfort zone?