so it's been a few weeks since i've posted anything here. we are still trying to get back into the swing of school and scouts and sports. plus last christmas it was decided that taking a family vacation during the fourth week of school would be a lovely idea, so once we were finally getting used to our routines, we took a break and now have to embrace them again.
i've also had a lot on my mind, things i've been working through, things i want to share here. it's the thoughts i have that pop up every year around this time, when our family schedule changes. it takes almost all school year for things to settle and everyone to accept their roles and duties. and then school ends and summer starts and all the routines and schedules and set daily plans go out the window in bits and pieces, until we find ourselves at the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year and we have to start all over again.
i don't mind the starting over again, i like routines and schedules, and my kids really thrive on knowing what comes next and what is expected of them and the plans we have for the day and week ahead. the part that throws me for a loop every year is that the school year also includes scouts and sports and all the other activities that my kids are involved in. all summer i can luxuriate in my agoraphobia, but at the end of august i am expected to be an adult and mother and go to meetings and practices and interact with other adults. and that is when, unfortunately, my differences always shine.
i don't like talking to people, i am terrible at small talk, and i always feel like i have nothing to say. but small talk is almost a requirement at these kid events, or it used to be until the age of smart phones and my new ability to stare at a small screen and pretend i am busy. i also have a "bit" of social anxiety, where as soon as i leave my house i start to panic. once we finally get to where we are going, the kids jump out of the car to join their peers and leave me milling around with the rest of the adults. those adults who i am convinced are laughing and pointing and talking about me, secretly belittling me because they know i am not like them, that i don't belong, that i am different and not the same and not worth being here. and so the panic sets in, and invariably i feel like crying or vomiting or hiding in my car, or all three if i happen to be at a boy scout meeting. so then, to pass the time and look busy and give me something else to focus on, i live tweet my panic attack, describing my cold sweats and nausea and racing heart and fear (it's a good time, you should follow me). and eventually, it ends, the kids come back, we get in the car and go home, and in the comfort of my safe space i am better.
all of my issues about leaving my house are tied together, and to fix one i must work on fixing them all. i know i would have an easier time if i was better at small talk, i would feel less different if i could hold a conversation with the other parents. because i know that they really aren't standing around making fun of me, they probably don't even notice me, but because i don't interact with them, my mind jumps to worse case scenario. the problem i have is that (especially at scouts, which is the worst) i don't have anything to talk about with the other parents. our interests are too different to be able to talk week after week about anything more than the weather. beyond the activity at hand, our kids don't even have much in common, so after all these years of seeing the same people, i have run out of ways to talk about the weather.
also, the simple fact that i struggle with anxiety sets me apart. but how to explain that i am not stuck up or bitchy but flat out scared is the reason i sit quietly and don't say anything? especially when in so many places the discussion of mental illness is taboo? last tuesday, while sitting around with the other parents, bumble ran over to me and said that i should try to make friends. it kills me that even he realizes i am not like the other moms. he has enough he is dealing with and has to personally overcome without being the kid with the weird mother, but i am at a lost with what to do.
on the internet it is easy to find people who share your interests, who are similar to you and with whom you can talk to about anything. in real life, in the more conservative circles i am forced to travel, it is so much harder. i don't watch sitcoms or care about the latest celebrity scandal or agree that this country was really founded on christian principles and the bible should dictate the laws we pass. i would much rather talk about superheros and space exploration and environmental conservation and the best way to build pneumatic steampunk fairy wings. but finding physical people to talk about stuff like that with, instead of just digital, has proven impossible. so i will continue to sit quietly and stare at my phone and try to slow my racing heart, and hope that, even if others do think i'm different, they don't hold it against my kids.