On Failing as a Parent

James and I have dubbed ourselves Awkward 1 and Awkward 2 after a recent discussion about our complete lack of social skills. That day, I had taken my children on their first ever play date. Yes. First ever. And, a few days before that? We had held our first ever impromptu play date.

Other than my nephew, I haven’t really known mothers in my area. I haven’t really done a good job of making friends. I did the chat thing with some mums when Ellie did music and Kahlei dance but, mostly, our social circle was my family who would come for dinners and cards and parties.

Now, we’ve dipped our toe in the play date water and, boy, do my girls like it. And my boy tells “she cool, mum” about the younger sister. But, I am in a terrified, bunny in the headlights situation. I have no idea what comes next. When Ellie is next invited over is it just Ellie? Do I just take her and drop her? Do we all go, as we did the first time and as they did when they came here? Am I in the way when I’m there?

It’s a whole new world for me and I want Ellie to nurture this friendship, especially after finding out yesterday she has not been invited to the first party of the year. Unfortunately, it’s being held by a girl who has seemingly told Ellie she dislikes her from the very first day and her being left out is causing her to be teased.

And, right now, as my heart breaks for her I feel it’s my fault.

I need to pull up my socks, put on my big girl pants and really show Ellie how to make friends and interact with people. Not that I’ve never tried. I’m just awkward. If you’ve ever met me at a blogger do, you’ll know this. I might be desperate to talk to you, to keep talking to you, to be your friend but I just don’t. know. how. But, I need to figure it out and quickly.

Here, I can say to you guys who I’ve seemed distant to that I do want to be friends, just give me a chance. In real life? Not so easy. How do I say to the mother of these girls that I want this to work, I want us to be friends and I want our kids to keep being keen to see each other but I am probably going to come across as disinterested, maybe even rude. I am going to say boring things. And maybe talk about what I’ve read in blogs as apposed to what I’ve said or done when with someone else. Because I don’t know anyone else.

I am hard to get to know. But maybe I’m worth the effort? I know my kids are, they’re worth every effort and I can’t believe how badly I’ve done by them when all I’ve ever wanted was to do the best for them.

Though there’s a reason for my inability to make friends or be ‘normal’ when faced with social interactions I still need to find a way to fight that and make friends despite my awkwardness. I have actually come a long way but I didn’t do it soon enough.

And now things are getting real.
What’s your hot tip for winning over the kindy mums?
What are the general play date rules I should know?

While you’re at it, can you fix my awkwardness?


Linking up with Essentially Jess for ibot
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36 Comments

  1. Fairy wishes and butterfly kisses, I wish we lived closer. I struggle with awkwardness as well. I know that if you told me any of those things in person I would feel at ease and understand. You never know this other lady might feel the same.

    • Thank you, Rhianna. It would be lovely if we lived closer. If only we could be where we are and choose who to surround ourselves with. If that makes sense.

  2. Wish I knew what to say to make it easy. Honestly, I just fake it til I make it most of the time. Maybe thinking of a few topics beforehand that you can talk about if there’s an awkward silence? Questions you can ask – where they are from, how they met, what they think of the teacher/school? It’s so hard but don’t beat yourself up, a lot of people have social anxiety issues and I don’t think it’s that your little girl doesn’t know how to make friends, it sounds like the other little girl is a bit of a bully! πŸ™ Good luck x Aroha #teamIBOT

    • I have to fake faking it at the moment. I think I will ‘plan’ a few conversation starters until things get easier and I can build on what I already know. Thank you so much for your encouraging comment.

  3. Oh wow, this post brought back memories. When my son started kindy it was at a new school. He didn’t know anyone, but made friends quickly. A lot of the mums new each other from living in the area, or their kids had been at pre-school or play groups together. They seemed to group together and I always felt a bit of an outsider.

    But each day, it got easier. It was hard to do at first, but just saying hello and standing near other (single and outsider) mums who I recognized as having children in my sons class got us talking.

    Funnily enough, my son is now in year 2 and some of these other mums who were standing there on their, when our children started school are now in my social circle and I speak with a catch up with them regularly… not only at school.

    Did that make any sense at all?

    • That’s exactly what’s happened here, we moved not long before school started and it’s such a small community that they all know each other, at least by sight and many are in the same social circles.

      Thank you so much for sharing this, hearing that there is a light at the end of this lonely kindy mum tunnel helps.

      And you made complete sense

  4. Ah yes, I’ve been through that. Well, the bit where I don’t know if I should stay or go when my child is on a playdate. Then if you stay WTH do you talk about right? Usually I find it’s easier if you invite them to your place. It’s like YOUR territory, so you feel more comfortable. Chat about anything and everything. Don’t think what you’re doing is small because it’s never small or insignificant.

    • I’m with you on inviting them to your place. I’ve always preferred to host, even as a child and teen all my friends came to our house.
      Thank you so much for your comment.

  5. I think most mothers have thought this, I definitely have. I think that most other woman would be happy to have someone to chat to as well. General play date rules don’t talk about breastfeeding, cry it out, vaccinations or of course religion and politics πŸ™‚

    • Thanks, Eleise. Some days I feel like I have to be the only person ever to have felt so ridiculously awkward, lonely and pathetic – even though I know it’s irrational to consider myself so ‘special’ but it’s good to have people come and say “I know what you mean” it makes me feel so much more confident that there can be something good.

  6. I would ask the parent if its ok if you stay and maybe take something to share. And be honest with them. They may become your life long friend – and its good to ally in the school yard. Good luck – your not a failure at all.

    • Thanks for linking up with #Tust

      Annaleis – Blogs and PR Team Member

    • Thank you Annaleis. I get nervous about taking things too! I worry about allergies and tolerances and what if they don’t eat this, that or the other… Although, I hope I will find the ability to ask.

  7. Let the other mum know how you are feeling. You never know, she might be feeling the same way too! I don’t know if there are any play date rules but I think for me, I would expect the mother of the child to stay, so I would stay when DS is going over to someone else’s place.

    • I’ve been thinking about this. At first, I was a bit like ‘noo, because they always have people there. How can she be feeling like me?’ but then I thought about how we used to entertain my family in our old town. I am sure we seemed much more social than we really are.

  8. Be yourself. Be yourself. Be yourselfxxxx

    • Thanks Tahlia. Sometimes I forget to be because I am so anxious.

  9. Ohh … And cupcakes are always a winner xxx

  10. And cookies xx

  11. It’s a tough world out there – I reckon the biggest thing is to make sure your child is happy with who they are playing with. There’s no point in forcing it just because, I used to do that but not any more x

    • Thanks for the comment, Emily. The girls most certainly want to play together, I remember having to play with children I didn’t quite click with and it was no fun, so I agree with you!

  12. I never DID work out that social mums group etiquette… shame, my children grew up okay… right?
    Meh, just be you, that’s all the qualifications you need. πŸ˜‰
    xxx

    • Thank you! You don’t often hear that it’s okay to not fit in and make other kinder mum friends.

  13. Oh, I think you are so awesome for making such an effort especially with something that doesn’t come easily to you – that’s not failing at all – that’s gusty! Just be yourself and try to enjoy some new company. For a play date, I’d be expecting the Mums to stay, and you never know, the other Mum may be just as nervous. Have fun xx

    • Hi Shari, I really appreciate your comment. I certainly do not feel gutsy in the least.

  14. You are not failing as a parent – geez, the only ones who are normal are the ones we don’t know very well. You are you, just be you. I know it can be awkward, but don’t worry about it. Your kids will be attracted to who they like, let them roll with it, and let their friends roll with it too. On saying that I know the feeling of when your child is not invited to a party but I think that has happened to almost every parent so u are not alone. I wrote a great article on how friendships boost learning for the nsw education dept parent website http://www.schoolatoz.com.au – it talks about how to help yr kids make friends etc. you may find it useful. But as for you and hubby, just be yourselves. If someone doesnt like u that’s there problem.

  15. I don’t find it really easy to talk to others either, but I don’t think I struggle quite as much as you. It just doesn’t come easily like it does for some people. Just keep trying, and you’ll get there one day.
    That’s what i tell myself anyway.

  16. Oh Becky, how I ache for you to see you worrying about this. I wish I could come and hold your hand and help you!

    When you were little like the kidlettes, I always went on your play dates until I knew the family well enough to feel that you were safe without me there. That was my rule – if I didn’t like the situation, I didn’t leave any of you there. As you all grew older, that relaxed a bit.

    I know you find it difficult, but you know so much, and your kids are your common ground. Talk about them, their interests, and then you will find other things to talk about. Play dates are for the mum as well as for the kids!! So go have fun…

    I love you xxx

  17. You are worth it Becky! Don’t ever doubt that.

    I happen to be one of the most shy people on the planet…until you get to know me. lol. When I first moved to the ‘gong, I knew nobody. I had to force myself to leave the house. I went to my local scrapbook store, hoping to socialise with like-minded crafters. The ladies I met that night are still some of my closest friends. It’s so important for women to socialise outside of their children.

    I would suggest inviting the mother and daughter over for a casual lunch. Perhaps suggest she bring a couple of other mothers and their kids over for a bigger play date. Get to know them in a group setting. You can do it Becky!

  18. Wish I had a suggestion that would help but I don’t because I am socially inept as well. Because I have always worked full time, K never went to any play dates. On the weekends she came with us wherever we were going and during the week she went to school and then got a lift home.
    I hope you do overcome this so that you don’t feel guilty and feel like you are letting your children down.
    Take care – lotsa hugs !
    Me

  19. Oh the tricky territory of the mummy social world. I hear you. My technique is generally to remember that people mainly just think about themselves and want to talk about themselves, so I ask them stuff about themselves. And listen. And make sure I get their number if I like them. Sort of like a date. And then text them to meet up somewhere with the kids, and so forth. Is this even helping you? Probably not. Best of luck though it is NOT easy.

  20. SNAP!!!!! I was just thinking the same thing myself today.. I need to get out more and meet more mums.. The children need more friends their age!!! I need to get back into the habit of small talk and “chatting”…

    #TTUT was here πŸ™‚

  21. I am meeting the new mums in my sons class tomorrow, I have asked to join them at their playgroup for the younger kids. I can get to know the other mums and my middle child is getting to know his potential classmates while the oldest is at school. Also the kindy class have a “friendship” list of all the mums contact details + kids. We have regular dinners/catchups to get to know others. Don’t stress. Just pick one mum a day or week to introduce yourself to. Friendships take time to grow. Don’t beat yourself up.

  22. I completely relate to this! Well done for writing this, it takes courage to admit to this kind of stuff. I think there are more people out there experiencing this than we think! All the best and I apologise for not checking out your blog sooner xxxx

  23. You know, I’m a pretty sociable person. I take pride that I can pretty make friends with anyone. Then I became a mum and gee, other mums are a tough crowd!
    Just be yourself. Nothing wrong with being awkward. We all are in our own way.

  24. Hey Becky, what a lovely honest, heart-felt post. I’ve moved about a lot so while I used to be shy, I had to decide at one point that I would just never say no to an invitation, no matter how scared I was. It also means that I’ve spent A LOT of time being the new person and the outsider.

    Lots and lots of people feel lonely and don’t know what to say. It is really hard to reach out to people and invite them into your world but when you do, I find that they often feel the same thing as you or are going through similar things as you. If you’re honest, they feel they have permission to be honest as well which in turn makes you feel like you’re not on your own after all.

    I guess my playdate rules would be – stay and get to know the mums. You’re never in the way, when the kids are little, it’s just assumed that you’ll stay unless they’re a neighbour and the kids are always playing together in the streets.

    Don’t sweat what to take round. If in doubt take biccies or fruit and avoid anything with nuts. Usually the people with allergies will tell the whole world and their dog. If in doubt ask.

    Be yourself. People respond best when you’re simply you and more people will like you than you believe! Look at all the people who have commented on your post! You attract people with honesty.

    Last piece of advice, get to know the mums by volunteering in the school canteen or at the mothers day or fathers day stalls. Places like that help you get familiar with people without actually having to make too much conversation. Once you’ve established a nice relaxed relationship with a couple of them it all gets much easier and less lonely for both you and by extension your kids.

    love, Sophie
    xx

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