I am The Invisible Mom


I’m standing here again to pick up my son from school at the end of the day. Except I’m looking around from the outside, in. I’m here everyday, yet I know no one. I quietly watch all the other parents chat, laugh and make plans. I’m always observing, and hoping someone notices me, except not really. I wouldn’t know what to say if someone did, and my words would fail me, like usual. And I hate it. 

All my life I’ve been that shy kid.

The one who got called on in class and then would completely freeze. I always thought it would get better as I got older. And it did, kind of, but not really. I’ve always been the outsider, watching safely from a distance. But, I’ve always wanted to be the one who gets in there and is carefree and outgoing, but I just can’t. I’m awkward, and quiet. No matter how hard I try, or don’t try. Things never really change. And even though I know all this, it’s never easy, even today.

Before having kids, my crippling shy-ness only affected me. It was something I hated, but I just dealt with it the best I could. And I always thought that once I became a mom, things would get socially easier for me. Moms just naturally become friends with one another and we all live happily ever after, right? Well, to no surprise, that’s not true.

And making “mom” friends, or hell, any friends in general, only seems to get harder for me, the older I get. Now, not only am I trying to make friends by having people like me, I’m also trying to get them to like my crazy kid too. 

A few months ago, I went to an event where I was going to have to mingle with a lot of people I didn’t know well: aka my nightmare. Beforehand, I was stressing out. My fears must have been pretty transparent, because when I came home that evening, my 6 year son sweetly said to me, “Mama, how did it go? Did you make some new friends?” I started tearing up and told him “yes.” But in reality, it was awful. I stood around awkwardly trying to start conversations, but ended up quietly leaving while fighting back tears. Just another failed experiment to put on the books. And my confidence takes a little hit each time. 

This event was especially painful, because it was the first time I realized that even my young son can see how hard I struggle with making friends. I felt foolish and weak. Which are things no mom ever wants to feel. I want to be seen as a strong and confident woman, especially to my 2 young boys. And I hate knowing that no matter how hard I try, I can’t change how awkward I am. Will my kids be embarrassed of me some day? Is my social awkwardness now affecting them too?

invisible mom

School pickup has become a daily reminder of my shortcomings.

It’s like a little bit of torture I have to live out every day. I’m usually in the back corner, watching everyone and wondering if people actually do see me? Am I this invisible mom that I think I am? Surely, no one would notice if I wasn’t there, because I haven’t formed any relationships with these parents I see every day. And I know what you’re thinking: “Why don’t you just go up to someone and say hi?” Well, I have tried time and time again. Some people have endured the awkward small talk with me (bless their souls) and others have flat out ignored me. Rejection wears on a person, especially introverts. I feel like I’m forever the “new kid.” People I’m around every day don’t know me at all, but they see me around a lot. I’m always struggling to connect with these people I don’t know. 

So, here I am. The invisible mom.

And I’m here to tell you that: yes, I am quiet and awkward and I keep to myself. But, you shouldn’t interpret that as me being “mean” or “stuck up” (both things people have assumed about me before talking to me) I want you to know that if I give you a one-word answer, it’s not because I’m uninterested, I’m probably desperately thinking of a million things to say in my mind, but none of those things are forming into actual sentences. And now I’m sweating.

But, I am real, not invisible. I am struggling. 

Photo Credit :: The Nesting Tree Photography & Family Films

I know I’ll never be outgoing and I try to be ok with that. But it’s hard, and it’s painful to look back on all the prospective new friends I’ve encountered and inadvertently turned off. It’s embarrassing to admit that I’m still nervous to talk to people, even though I’m a 30-something grown up who owns her own business, and should be better at this by now. I just hope that my kids can someday see that even though I’m an awkward mess, I still go out into the world every day and try. I try, even though I know I’m likely going to fail. And even though my failures are embarrassing, I always am able to laugh at myself. That’s gotta count for something, right?

So, if you see me out in public, and I’m adjusting my glasses like a huge nerd, and I look like I’ll probably pee myself if you talk to me. Just know that I’m nervous as hell, but I swear I’m a really funny and cool-ish mom. And if you’d like to listen, I have some hilarious stories to tell about all my adventures in the world of being an awkward and invisible mom.


  1. Great post! Thanks for sharing this deeply personal story, which I’m sure wasn’t easy. I wish I could have read it years ago when my boys were younger (now 17 and 20), so I would have known I wasn’t the only one feeling this way ????

  2. Let’s be awkward and funny together! I live in Greenfield near Hales Corners! And I’m so painfully shy and I hate small talk lol. Talking to school moms is so hard!

    • Awesome!!! I too hate small talk and feel as though it should be banned ???? But yes, I live in muskego, which isn’t too far at all! I always joke,(but also not really joke) that there should be a support group for shy awkward moms, where we can all just get together and embrace our awkwardness. ????

      • I know that I’m seeing this article and replying to your comment two years after it’s been posted, but I wanted to reply for two reasons:
        -To say thank you for writing it (because I am the same way and it’s really nice to know someone else goes through this)
        -And to say that, yes, I have actually though about how introverted and shy moms need their own group!

  3. I feel this way too very often! I hate small talk (cause I suck at it) and often feel like an idiot when trying to make friends with parents of my kids friends. Thanks for this insightful and honest post! Refreshing to know others struggle. Kudos to you for sharing.

  4. As the mom who is probably literally the polar opposite of you (I actually go up to complete strangers on the daily and say hello), can I offer one possibility (it may not work, depending on your school / your time / your lifestyle)? Join the PTO/PTA. Don’t try to run for president, or do anything crazy like be the chair of a giant dance or party, just ask if/how you can volunteer. There are many little things that need doing, and are a great ice breaker for mingling with just a few folks at a time. There’s box top to cut and count, home rooms to collect things from, endless meetings discussing the new school T shirt design… I personally feel more able to connect with people if I have a job to do (like man the drink counter at a school PTO function). This may not work for your levels of personal comfort, and this may not in any way be something you’re down with, just wanted to toss it out there <3

    • Thanks Janis! That’s a great suggestion and I should definitely try to volunteer more. I’ve done a little in the past, but probably not enough.

  5. I feel the same way! I feel I’m the only one who doesn’t know the other parents at my son’s school!! And at social events it’s so hard to talk to other parents- I’ve never been good at small talk!

  6. What personal courage this took to share this deeply personal reflection! Good for you for being so in touch with yourself. It may not feel like it, but you are over the hump! Now, drop the label. You are Janis and are smart and driven and complex. Focus on your strengths vs weaknesses in these situations so you don’t panic. Every school has the mom who talks to everyone and goes out of their way to include everyone. Find that mom. Watch for her, she may have already introduced herself. Rather than making small talk with her, crack a joke “remind me to get an engineering degree to figure out how to do parent pickup!” Everyone loves some snark ????

    In our school I’m “that mom” and here’s a little secret, I’m that way because of switching schools 7 times in my childhood and experiencing a lot of rejection over the years. I never want anyone to feel that pain, so I’m sensitive to all of the other moms and when I see the shy mom I engage. I promise you that you are safe just walking up to that overly friendly mom…this mom isn’t going to be with the ugg boots, Starbucks, full make up and hair done parent drop off crowd….she’s more of the pajamas, no bra drop off crowd. Although those ugg boots, Starbucks Crew can surprise you- my friends Aimee and Katie were in that crew and considered it a competition to see how many days they could pull off not showering by wearing cute hats and big coats and body spray! ????

    Here is the deal…we are all trying not to screw up our kids. And we have to spend 12 years together trying not to do that. No one is going to be mean to you. I know you feel self conscious and I want you to know that all of us do. Remember that when approaching the conversation the next time. Compliment someone and be sincere “omg cute boots!” “I love your haircut! I’m new in town, where do you get your hair done?” Be yourself and be a little snarky “oh great another art project made of paper plates! Now my whole house is decorated in picnic chic!” If you do make smal talk, make it funny “crap it’s cold in here, did the school forget to pay the heating bill?!” Make yourself approachable. And if you can’t, message me and I’ll do parent pickup/drop off with you until you have a solid base! Someone else mentioned volunteering- a ton of my good friends were made by volunteering at school- you don’t have to run any big event, just help out and you will make friends! The people running the events are so appreciative of anyone who will help and they will want to keep you in their good graces so you come back! And you get to really know the kids in the school which is helpful when parenting!

    You are smart, sweet and most of all you are enough. Don’t worry about rejection…you win some and you lose some. We are all people and we all want acceptance. Remind yourself that when you are worried about making contact with another person. 99% of the world is truly kind- f the 1% ❤️


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