The responses to my less than complete satisfaction with Noah’s playgroup lead me to a topic I’ve been meaning to blog about for sometime – the work of Mommy socializing. As a SAHM I consider it part of my job to seek out and maintain friendships with other SAHM’s and their children, both for my benefit and Noah’s. I’m a fairly social lass and in contemplating staying home with kids I always feared I wouldn’t be able to do it because I’d be too lonely. When Mark worked from home I repeatedly said I’d never be able to do it because I NEED the social interaction of the regular workplace. And yet here I am “working” from home, and actually enjoying it more than I ever thought possible. But part of what keeps me sane is socializing with other mothers who are also at home with their kids every day. They are my “work” friends. In the workplace I’ve always become friendly with people who were different then me – they had different viewpoints, different interests, different ways of being than myself. But we had work as common ground – both the location and the ins and outs of the work we did and the people with whom we dealt. And it’s those people who always got me to work every day, who made the drudgery of my job fun. As a SAHM I can’t merely peer over my cubicle wall to meet a new friend, I have to seek them. And I won’t just run into them every day in the same office, I have to make play dates and arrange playgroups. And though some of the Moms I’ve become friendly with wouldn’t exactly fit in with my longstanding pre-Noah friends at a party, they are vital to my happiness.
And of course Noah’s need for socialization is also key. Sure he might sometimes be cautious, passive, sensitive and downright uncomfortable in social situations with kids his own age, but that is all the more reason I have to keep up with the play dates. It won’t ever become manageable for him if he never has to do it. However that being said I also want to say that I don’t believe the reason for Noah’s shyness is because he’s home with me – it seems obvious to me that it’s an inherent part of his personality. Despite seeing some kids regularly for almost a year he’s just warming up to them. Of course if Noah was regularly in a preschool situation he would have to adapt a way of dealing with his shyness or at the very least adapt to the specific children he encountered at school because he'd have no other option. But I don’t think school is a magic pill to cure his sensitivity, caution and passiveness. And thank God. Because though I feel for him when he’s obviously a bit scared in a new situation, I’m also proud of how observant, thoughtful and sensitive he is. I’m glad he’s the boy giving up his toy rather than the one grabbing it out of another child’s hand.
Part of the reason I feel that Noah will most likely remain a bit anxious socially is because that’s how Mark is. I have a perfect example. In two weeks Mark’s aunt and uncle are having a fiftieth wedding anniversary party. And because Noah isn’t permitted to attend and the driving distance and timing involved, Mark has to go to the party solo while I stay home with the boy. And while I’m disappointed I can’t attend, Mark is more so. He’s anxious about having to socialize at a party without me there to help him. And it’s his FAMILY! Of course he’ll go and he’ll have a good time chatting with his aunts, uncles and cousins, but that fear of not having me there to lean on is exactly what I believe Noah experiences. And Mark hasn’t overcome that after many, many years of schooling. He even interacts with people other than me EVERY DAY!
So an occasional bad playgroup session is nothing to sweat. It won’t have me packing my bags and locking myself and the boy back in the house for the day. And if a Mommy friend can be a bit overbearing on occasion, I try hard to overlook it. (As I hope they and you will do for me.) I need those "work" friends desperately, even when I'm annoyed. (That doesn’t however mean I won’t bitch about it sporadically.)