This mom is not me.
But I wish she were.
Instead, I'm the mom who shows up to the mom and baby groups with a little sweat in my armpits and a squadron of butterflies in my stomach. I'm the mom who tries to show up early so I don't have to go through the panic of deciding where to sit in an already full room (the worst!) and then insert myself into an already established conversation. I'm the mom who, on Monday can converse like my fantasy self, but by Tuesday, can't bear the thought of socializing. I'm the mom who talks a little more quietly to her baby in public than she does at home because what if how I talk to my baby is not the "right way" to talk to a baby? (Ridiculous.)
I can't pretend I know everything about social anxiety, but I'm pretty sure mine stems from insecurities and lies I've believed about myself from a very young age. Hence, why I refuse to call my son "shy."
I don't want to be the mom with social anxiety. Not just because walking into a full room is painful, but because I don't want to pass anxiety on to my son. I want to lead by example, so it doesn't make sense if I pump him up, tell him how awesome he is and that he should be himself, love himself, and put himself out there...if I can't do the same.
So what can I do? My baby is here, growing, watching, learning already. Am I totally screwing up when I walk into a room full of people, and my baby watches my lips tense and listens to my voice fill with self-doubt? Am I doomed to teach him all the wrong things about confidence, socializing, loving oneself?
Sure, my baby will pick up on how uncomfortable I am trying to insert myself into a group conversation. But that's not all he's going to see. He's also going to see me try. And in trying, he'll see me fail and succeed. He'll watch and learn as I give myself grace and laugh off awkward encounters. If I cry after an uncomfortable interaction, he'll learn that moms have difficult, sad feelings too. He'll understand it's okay to stay home if you need a break from people. And then after that? He'll see me go out and try again. And again and again. He'll see me conquer fear with action. He'll notice there's a connection between how much love I have for myself and how much time I've spent in God's presence. He'll witness what a real difference it makes to bask in the love of our Creator.
None of that would be possible if I were the perfect, fantasy version of myself. So I guess being the awkward mom on the playground isn't the worst thing, after all. Not when it means my flawed son learns how to be brave by watching his flawed, brave momma.
Related post: Why I Refuse to Call My Son "Shy"
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