This afternoon I saw a small little girl my son's age standing in her front yard silently staring at the goings-on around her while holding a pink flower. I found her adorable and sweet. My own children were barreling up and down the sidewalk on toddler toys much too small for them, careening this way and that, blowing soap bubbles in faces and generally wreaking havoc on their surroundings.
I was overwhelmed in that moment by their chaos. I remarked to the mother of the quiet girl, "What is it like to have a child who stands quietly while holding a flower?"
She visibly cringed, then smiled, and said, "Sometimes it's not always so easy." She then explained that she unsuccessfully tries to encourage her sweet daughter to engage in the play around her, which apparently doesn't work.
I wanted to cry. The pain of pulling my foot out of my mouth was too great. I looked in the direction of the flower-holder and saw that she was still serenely smiling and looking through the bushes for another flower. My own children were wild bulls on small plastic trains released from their cages.
I apologized to the mother of this sweet girl for the dumb thing I said. I was once the little brown-haired girl silently holding a flower, the one most people thought was deaf/mute for years (ask my mother). I am now a tall brown-haired girl whose preference is still to stand on the sidelines holding a pretty, soft thing to anchor me in the middle of the swirl of extroverts. It's how we make sense of this world.
I walked to my car swallowing the lump in my throat for making another mother feel sad. I fed my son ice cream and corn dogs for dinner, then sat on the couch with him and read him long books of tales about giants and mermaids. He is not on the sidelines of life; neither is my daughter.
Among my many hopes for them in life is that they one day fall in love with and marry introverts, if for no other reason so they can understand their mother.
Sweet brown-haired mother of an introverted daughter: I am so sorry. As much as I am okay in this life, she will be also.