I am an introvert.
Or, I am someone who assumes they are in introvert because they don’t talk a lot, they have only a few close friends, they spend hours or maybe days in advance of a night out wondering if they’ll be able to do it and because they don’t get at all upset when an event other people have been looking forward to ends up getting cancelled.
So maybe what I am is socially anxious. I’m the kind of person who sees a sweatshirt like this and thinks “yes, that is me. But I hope people don’t think that means I don’t like them.”
Whatever the case, the news from the most recent Netflix survey that 58% of couples prefer to stay in and watch Netflix rang true to me. Mostly.
For me, I take it just one step further, beyond just wanting to stay in on date night and kind of just wanting to stay in every night. I’m not sharing this as a good thing or a bad thing. There are times where I am very happy to be able to live with the company of myself and my family and there are times where I wonder if my own preference to stay in—not just on date night—might end up hurting my children.
To be honest, as much as I love being introverted and not needing to have the company of a multitude of others to make me happy, I worry it also makes me a bad parent.
Because the shows on Netlfix, and the ways my kids actually love to watch them—be it Yo Gabba Gabba or Paw PAtrol or Peppa Pig or any other of the ones I’ve at one time another put on for hours at a time, make me happy I don’t have to bring them out in public all the time.
I have this battle with myself often, usually when I’m alone with my kids for a weekend or even just a full day. I let the “I’m a bad parent” thoughts dominate my mind:
“If I don’t take them to a park and a restaurant and to a playgroup, am I a bad parent?”
“I have stayed inside with them for three hours and other people know I’m home. Do they think I’m screwing up my kids?”
“Should I have said yes to going over to someone’s house with the girls?”
“How horrible am I that I hope they don’t ask to go to a museum today?”
I admire parents who are always out and about with their kids. I wish I could go out and smile the same way they do and effortlessly move from one section of a bookstore play area to another without first planning the move. And, I beat myself up at the end of a day I’ve spent with them when we didn’t check out the dinosaur exhibit at a museum.
I find these types of events difficult because I get there and worry other parents might try to engage with me. It’s the worry that gets me. If someone does talk to me, I am able to converse quite naturally. I don’t have trouble making friends if it is someone else who takes the first step but when I’m out, I sit and watch and avoid eye contact and hope nobody does take that step.
So, we stay in and watch Netlfix and my kids smile and they learn about math with Sid the Science Kid and about their emotions with Inside Out and I feel a little less disappointed in myself for not bringing my kids out on a day when I have a few dollars in my wallet and a full tank of gas. I feel a little more assured that I can still raise some quality human beings even if I don’t have them outside all the time.
I don’t feel bad explaining to my kids how nervous I get going out in public and I do try as often as possible to challenge myself by making an outing. And, I’ll admit, it’s often better than I expect. But that doesn’t make it any easier the next time.
I’m also fortunate enough to have a partner who, although more outgoing than me, and better at making friends than I, is also comfortable staying in to watch movies.