I tell my daughter to look in people’s eyes, shake hands, speak so they can hear her, and a host of other things to help her socially in the world. In turn, she has little trouble making friends and finding someone to sit with in the metaphorical cafeteria of life. Her own mother, on the other hand, has some apprehension.
Early on I realized I was terrible at selling anything, worse at confrontation, and a downright Nervous Nancy in social situations where I didn’t know anyone. I get shy and awkward easily. I try hard to reach out and muster up some courage, but it takes a lot of “you can do this” self-talk to get me there.
Recently, I read a little blurb a friend put on her Instagram telling of the horror she had to go through, also known as a “Mother’s Tea”, at her daughter’s preschool. She was just like me- in that she was nervous about having to meet other mothers and anxious about having to bring along her baby to nurse during the event. She usually shied away from these kinds of things, but since having children, she found herself flung into these situations more and more. Many other women commented on having the same fears, and the same anxiety, over these types of parenting moments. I realized there are lots of us out there, but what’s a nervous mommy to do?
Here are a few ways to face your social fears while being a parent:
Practice what you probably already preach. As I said earlier, I tell my daughter to look people in the eye, shake their hand, speak loud enough so they can hear her, etc. Doing these same things will help bring confidence to your own approach to dealing with social situations.
Smile. I always feel at ease when someone talks to me while smiling. They instantly look friendlier. Try to smile your way through a first hello with another parent and it will almost always portray you to be the lovely person you are.
Body language. It’s semi-impossible to throw your shoulders back in confidence when you have on you, a baby in a carrier and you’re toting a toddler who no longer wants to walk another step. You already don’t want to be there, but on top of it you’re tired and you forgot mascara. But, all of this shows through your body language. Even if it’s the opposite of what you feel- try and lift your head a little higher, take deep breaths, and walk in that room like you spent three hours getting ready and the nanny with your kids is right behind you.
You’re not the only one. It’s entirely true that you are not the only mom who feels shy and more than a little intimidated to be there. It’s okay to imagine just about every other parent there is uncomfortable, and that you are all in this together. It usually helps to imagine them, too, getting nervous about walking in and meeting new people.
The person you are there for is your child. Most likely the person you are going through all this social anxiety for is your child- and wouldn’t we all do anything for our kids? I have locked eyes with my daughter after entering a room filled with people I do not know and realize she is the only one that matters. If she needs me there, I will show up. It’s what being a mom is all about, and handling the rest pales in comparison.
I also use this one quote a lot, even saying it out loud, to help me out. It’s recited by Benjamin Mee, in the movie We Bought a Zoo…
“You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery.
And I promise you, something great will come of it”
You stepped outside your comfort zone and you took a risk. Isn’t that what we all try and teach our children to do? Because great things do come of it, like even maybe making a new mom friend at the proverbial lunch table of life.