I’m not shy. In fact, ask anyone who knows me, and they’ll tell you I’m the opposite. For as long as I can remember (which may not actually be very long), I’ve been known for my talkative nature. The only times I got in real trouble at school were for talking during class (and once for getting up to check my hair in the classroom TV—during a test). My cheerleading coach from junior high nicknamed me Debra “Loudmouth” Fulcher. I didn’t mind because I couldn’t deny it.
I come from a long line of talkative, outgoing women, with the most notable being my mother, Teresa. She is one of out twelve Denney children, and it’s safe to say she knows everyone in town. She’s a force of nature, and most people know her by her boisterous laugh that can be heard clear across Wal-Mart (or the state of Tennessee, if it’s something really funny).
Growing up, a trip to the grocery store that should have taken 30 minutes could easily turn into a three-hour expedition. We couldn’t take a step without being stopped by someone that knew my mom. And she couldn’t just say “Hello”—she had to reminisce with them, find out detailed histories of their life events, inquire about their children, job, husband, wife, and family pets. While I didn’t like standing there for hours, I was always proud that my mom had so many friends and was well-liked. I figured I would grow up and be the same way.
Fast forward a few years—I started dating my then-boyfriend, now-husband Michael. I began attending Cumberland University, and I was still working part-time at a local bookstore. I was surrounded by people all day, everyday. I loved it! Then, I got married and once we had our little girl, we decided it would be best for me to stay home with her. It was the obvious option because I wanted to continue working toward my degree and I didn’t trust anyone else to keep my daughter. I wasn’t even sure I trusted myself to do it!
In order to be a stay at home mom, I left Cumberland to start taking my classes online through MTSU. And without a job, I had no real reason to get out of the house everyday. I was totally focused on my little girl, who completely amazed and entertained me--even though all she did at the time was eat, sleep, and poop (but mostly poop). I started losing contact with a lot of my childless, single friends. My mom always told me you could count your true friends on one hand, and that’s if you were lucky. I found that out first hand.
A few weeks ago, I started to really miss the feeling of being productive and just being out in public. My personality had even begun to change. I wasn’t as outgoing or talkative anymore. I felt like a hermit, and I’m not talking about the crab. I knew something had to change. I missed feeling social and connected. So, I found a part-time job that works with my schedule and allows me to be around people that don’t share my last name.
So far, it’s great and now I’m well on my way to being “me” again. Pretty soon, I’ll be chatting people up in Wal-Mart for three hours while my daughter stands there, wishing she had stayed home. And maybe one day, she will write some futuristic newspaper column about the valuable lessons she learned from her mother everyday, even while standing in the produce aisle for the better part of her day. Or maybe she’ll be an introvert who avoids Wal-Mart like the plague because of her traumatic memories of grocery trips that lasted a few hours too long. I’ll just keep my fingers crossed on that one.
Debra, a Lebanon, TN native, is a novice mother, wife, and college student. She writes about the parts of parenthood you didn’t expect when you were expecting.
Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website at motherinterrupted.com.