One of the many things having kids has done for me is made me appear less shy. I’m still shy by nature: still comfortable playing wall flower, still more follower than leader, still feel no need to be the center of attention, ever. But in a group of people, if any of those people has kids, I have a common thread with them. I’m not so shy about launching into a conversation with someone I’ve never met before if I have an opening topic, a clear opinion on the subject matter, a strong desire to hear stories about their experiences.
This weekend I had two children’s birthday parties: one for a classmate of Peanut’s, one for a classmate of String Bean’s. At the first party, I knew the birthday girl’s mother on a very limited basis, and virtually no one else. But I ended up sitting at a table with two other women and having a lively discussion about all kinds of interesting things: the differences between American and Brazilian childrearing, private versus group swim lessons, miscarriages, travel with toddlers, IVF, picky eaters. The time passed quickly and I never once felt like the old wallflower, on the fringe of a party, not knowing how to jump in and join the fray.
At the second party I knew two of the moms well, but ended up chatting with the parents I’d never met before for most of the time. Not only am I less shy around other parents, but I find myself wanting to meet new personalities, hear new stories, learn of different experiences. Whether it’s from finally living this writer’s life where every new person I meet is one more potential character and every story I hear is another possible plot line, or just that as I’ve grown up I’ve forgotten some of those fears that used to make me shy away from new people, I’m enjoying this less-shy version of myself, and the new people that come along with it.