I’ve been going to my farmers market for four years. Every Thursday, from May through November, I’ve walked the five blocks to the market, buying produce from the same three or four vendors. Never once have any of the vendors shown the slightest hint of recognition.
And then I started bringing Teddy. Now I’m recognized. The second week I brought him, one of the vendors I always visit said (to Teddy, that is), “I remember you! You’re back!” I smiled, but internally, I was laughing. Then I visited my second vendor and had roughly the same conversation, although she added, “I saw you on the metro the other day! But I was at the other end of the train….” Her addendum was presumably to explain why she didn’t say hello. I wasn’t sure what to say to that. “Um, great!”
I know part of this is simply because I have a baby now. All new moms are subject to more attention than they experienced before they became mothers. All mothers have strangers oohh’ing and aahh’ing over their adorable infants.
But another part of it is because I’m a mother of a child of a different race. And there just aren’t that many people like me around (that I’ve seen, anyway). Teddy and I are memorable. And our differentness provokes questions and comments and conversation.
This is fun and exciting and I love having conversations with people I wouldn’t ordinarily connect with. And, of course, I love watching people fawn over my son.
But I’m an introvert. Constantly donning a bright smile and making small talk with total strangers and thinking on the spot about how I want to educate those who maybe ask less appropriate questions or whether I want to respond at all to totally inappropriate comments is exhausting. I’ve wondered the last few months how caring for a baby who’s so easy going and sleeps through the night can be so tiring, and I honestly think this is part of it for me. I’m not anonymous anymore. I’m chatting with new people all the time. That’s draining for an introvert.
I don’t have a solution for this except to be intentional about giving myself down time after a particularly social day.
The other day, I posted a picture on Facebook of Teddy surrounded by books, which he’d pulled from “his” shelf after crawling to it. A friend commented that life as we knew it would never be the same. She, of course, meant that mobility changes everything.
But all I could think of was that life as we knew it changed dramatically the moment we got Teddy–in so many ways–and it seems that I’m learning new ways all the time.