By Kristen De Deyn Kirk
We’re both watching our teens play soccer, and we’re likely to see each other three times a week for a few months, so please allow me to introduce myself: I’m Kristen, middle-aged mom of two teens. I’m an introvert who knows for sure that “introvert” does not mean “anti-social.”
Let me explain. Most days, I talk to no one outside of my family. It’s my fault; I choose to be a freelance writer, comfy in my yoga pants and day-old hairdo, at home, with my laptop. Yep, me and my laptop.
Sounded ideal at first. Then the loneliness kicked in.
My next-door neighbor, a fellow work-at-home mom, used to be reliable for a couple of chats a week near the mailbox. But she moved.
My other friends are weighed down with homeschooling, from-home businesses or traditional jobs. We catch up once a month in person, a true treat.
If only those 29 days between get-togethers flew by instead of dragging….
So, fellow soccer mom, when I see you standing near the field, I smile. Forgive me, my smile might be too wide, and as I approach you, I might talk too loudly.
I’m not completely crazy, I promise. I’m grateful to see someone who is around my age, who gets the agony and amazement of raising teens and who is bravely stepping outside the safety of her minivan.
You can talk about whatever you want. Tell me your son is not much of a talker, and you wonder if that’s true in school, too. I’ll understand when your face lights up when you then see him chatting with a teammate. (My face did the same at our last game, when my son saw an old friend and actually walked over to him to talk.) If you’d rather talk about the long drive you have to the practice field, and how your husband can’t get out of work in time, that’s fine too. I will commiserate and share that mine is hoping to drive to the next practice. We like the dads involved, don’t we? You can also mention that you’re starting a full-time job soon and you’re thinking of a million contingency plans. What happens if the school bus doesn’t come in the morning — and you’ve already left for work? What if one of your children has an afterschool club and no school-provided transportation back home? How will you manage dinner and then practice if you’re late driving home because of traffic? My heart will ache for you, and I’ll tell you I get it: The trade-off for a full-time job is a gut-wrenching juggle of responsibilities. As we continue to talk, you can even go political and tell me you love the candidate I hate. I’ll appear diplomatic. I’ll ask questions, and you’ll think I’m in the undecided camp. Or if you’d rather keep the conversation light and mention your addiction to The Real Housewives of New York City, Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders: Making the team and The Property Brothers, I’ll do my best to play it cool, nod in agreement and save my happy dance for the privacy of my kitchen.
If you want to talk as long as that last paragraph, I’ll listen.
If you want to talk as short as this sentence, I’ll talk instead. Either way, I’d be happy.
Kristen De Deyn Kirk is a freelance writer from Virginia. She writes about parenting, education, politics and wine — and dreams of regular assignments that combine the four. She tweets at @KristenKirk.
Photo: Getty Images