I am not a very social person. I am very open to people and I have quite a lot of friends. But I enjoy being on my own quite a bit as well. I don’t do well in parties and social situations where I do not know people but am forced to share a room with them. All my school life I have always turned down parties, optional work meetings, optional social engagements – they make me extremely nervous, I don’t know. Even as an academic, you will hardly find me at a conference. I think I’ve only been to 5 my entire academic career. When I do go, its because I have a presentation but I never bother mingling with other academics. I will leave, stay in my hotel room, or explore the city. When I do go to parties because of social pressure, I am counting down to the hour I can leave. I also dislike school camps, work retreats, immersion language courses, and anything that forces me to share an experience with acquaintances, colleagues and strangers and bond with them. I also extremely, extremely hate it when I invite or make an agreement with a friend for a dinner or movie, and at the very last minute tell me they brought a mutual friend along. Its not that I do not like that mutual friend, but I prefer to be prepared for whom I am going to spend time with. I don’t know if this makes me introverted because I am also extroverted. Even with my nervous energy with people I am unfamiliar with, I am capable of socially engaging them. I just do not enjoy it but not wanting to be rude or awkward, I play the part. Maybe I am somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. Sometimes I am amazed how I have friends at all.
Being a mother has made me totally fearless. I found my social anxieties relaxed in the typical social circumstances where I would totally be guarded. I am also unafraid anymore of being in awkward situations – situations I would tend to avoid pre-motherhood. I am also suddenly extremely spontaneous and have more frequently engaged with people I usually would not talk to. I am not sure what motherhood did to me. I can only guess that when you make and raise children, a certain empowerment comes with it, and that can change your being quite a bit.
One of the social situations that I disliked pre-motherhood was having people over my home. My home is a sanctuary. Its the most intimate place in my life. Everything you want to know about me you can see through my home. And its a place I only want to share with my husband and children because its where we built our memories. I have never been comfortable with people at my home and when I do have them over, I am usually very nervous about it and would have cleaned and prepared the house for people to enjoy. I do host guests and friends have stayed over, but only really, really privileged people get this opportunity. I have rented out the house before but they are people whose judgement do not bother me. And they usually come and go, never to be seen again. Naturally with the triplets, everyone wanted to visit us. I would apologise incessantly for the mess, for the dis-organization, for not having cleaned up. And they will always reply no, no its okay, you are busy. Yes, I know I am busy and the children do take up a lot of time, but I still care that I am not showing you what is actually the very best of this very intimate place in my heart.
Recently, I stopped apologising to visitors for the state of my home. I also stopped cleaning to prepare it for visitors. And I must thank a certain gentleman for this. He came over for dinner, met the triplets, and when he left, I did the usual I am sorry for the mess, and he replied, “No, no, its clearly a happy home.” And I realised that its not how the house looks, its how it feels. And we are a happy bunch.