There we were at the park, just the four of us. She happened to think it was a great time to take her daughter to the park and so did I. There was no one else around, so our daughters thought it would be a great idea to play together. At some point she told her toddler to introduce herself to mine. I assumed she would at least smile my way (although I was hopeful she’d say hi), but she didn’t acknowledge me even though we were only 5 feet apart.
I stood there in silence for what seemed like forever, feeling awkward, wondering if she was just the introvert type. So I went for it. I said hi. We shook hands and learned each other’s names, but then she looked away. Her toddler took her hand and she was gone. There was no “nice to meet you” or “maybe i’ll see you around sometime” to transition her goodbye. She simply left.
This wasn’t the first time this has happened. I’m finding that this is very common in the mom world and I’m thankful I didn’t need her approval to feel accepted.
Honestly, I’m fortunate to have many friends that love me for who I am, flaws and all. I’m fortunate that I have a group of moms that I can go to for support, advice & prayer. I’m fortunate to be married to a man that loves, respects, honors, and supports me. I’m fortunate to have help from friends, family, and even a cleaning lady. I’m thankful I’ve had the privileged of facing this motherhood thing head on. There’s not a day that goes by that I take for granted all the resources, friends, and help I get. I know not all mama’s get this privilege.
That’s when it hit me. Most moms out there would’ve felt complete and utter rejection had they been in my shoes, because even with all that I’m thankful for I still felt the sting. Feelings of frustration & deep concern flooded my thoughts for all the mom’s out there who are desperate for an act of kindness. A simple hello could possibly give her hope instead of hardening her heart. In response to that frustration I posted this status on my personal Facebook account:
“That awkward moment at the park when another mom tells her toddler to introduce herself to mine, but pretends I don’t exist even though I’m only 5 feet away…”
The response was interesting. This is coming from the group of my mom friends that I deeply respect, love, and admire.
- Mom #1- said that she was guilty of not modeling, only because she was so focused on her toddlers interactions that she didn’t think to introduce herself. She said it wasn’t intentional, but that if it was it’s usually because she’s introverted
- Mom #2: said she does this all the time and doesn’t think it’s weird at all
- Mom #3: said she was guilty but at least she smiles & thanked me for bringing this into light
- Mom #4: said she we just like me. She feels awkward when other moms shy away and thinks social media has taken a toll in the real world
- Mom #5: said she is was famous for doing this because she’s careful of who she chooses as friends so she doesn’t do any “unnecessary socialization”
It made me think, a lot. Maybe too much. My brain started spinning out of control. Honestly, I couldn’t even sleep. One of my friends even private messaged me because I originally made the assumption that this was unkind behavior. I apologize for my assumptions. I really do. Who am I to say this is unkind? But the truth is, I can’t stop thinking about it. Because…
- I need help. How am I supposed to give other moms hope when most of all the other kind mom’s I know shy away too? I can’t do this thing all by myself. Giving hope requires being connected in some sort of way. Saying hi is the first step to being connected. I’m not saying become BFF’s with everyone you meet, but smiling, acknowledging, and being open to small talk could make a big difference for the woman who got lost in her transition to motherhood.
- How are other new moms supposed to avoid postpartum depression if one of us can’t even say hi? Let’s be real, this motherhood thing is amazing and yet ridiculously difficult at the same time. It’s easier for some and tough as hell for others, but no one gets a smooth ride the whole way. Let’s strive to connect. Let’s figure out who needs a little bit of hope during those dark days. Let’s be there for each other.
- This is for my Christian moms: How are other women supposed to know about God’s love if we can’t even make a simple kind gesture in the park? How are we as Christian moms going to share the good news like were supposed to if we can’t get past our comfort zone? This is something we should be thinking, praying, and asking God to give us the courage to do daily.
I’m a social introvert. I’m not the extrovert most women think I am. Honestly, I would much rather avoid other moms at the park too because it stings when they don’t respond. But I’m called to be different. I’m called to bring hope. It’s not easy for me either. But I refuse to accept this as normal. Even if no one else is doing it, I know I’m doing my part. And I think we should ask ourselves, “Does kindness start with hello?” A simple gesture isn’t going to make her your bff, but it might make her day. It might make her realize she’s not alone. It might even give her the hope she needs to get her through her day. It might even save her life. You just never know.
*By the way, this little girl in the picture is not from this story. Just in case you’re wondering.