Marriage and motherhood have both been the most refining processes of my life. Once I entered into each, there was a moment I realized this is “forever,” and my innermost vulnerabilities cringed at the idea of being seen by another person! For me, it was hard enough letting Matt into the deeper layers of myself, and I know this will happen again as my daughter grows and matures.
Even though she’s a tiny baby, I already picture our future. Sometimes the future seems more intimidating than bright because there are things I need to grow in to offer her my best. One of the main areas of life I desire to grow in is community and friendship. I have always loved having friends, but I don’t make friends as easily as some others. After college, many of my friends moved across the United States to places like Charleston, Colorado and Los Angeles. I have always had quality friendships over quantity, and that has never been an “issue” per say until now.
I want my daughter to have a rich friend group, preferably where her friends know each other and spend time together. All my best friends know one another, but the only occasion everyone was together was my wedding! I want her to have influence outside of Matt and me, and I want to help set her up for success socially and give her environments where she can develop and learn on her own. Although this is my heart’s desire, I feel resistance because I am honestly afraid.
At some point in the last few years I started developing social anxiety. It came in part due to hurtful friends and a classic case of feeling super rejected by my “community.” It’s not crippling in the sense I can’t be around people, but I feel easily unnerved at the thought of developing new friendships. I tend to second-guess myself when I put myself out there, and I assume others will not accept me fully. I want to give myself, but I am afraid I won’t be desired. I want to be friends with her future friends’ moms and be involved in her activities, but I know this is a hurdle I will have to jump over to make that fruitful.
I never thought about the fact that to help her make friends, I may need to make nice with new people, too. I’m not sure what it is about me, but I have had enough people tell me they thought I was mysterious (I LOL at that every time), intimidating and standoffish before they got to know me. Ironically, that intimidates me! I fear giving people the wrong impression of our family, specifically my daughter, when I hear these things. If they don’t like me, will they not like her, too? If they categorize me in a certain way, will it play into her perceived identity as she grows?
Matt and I recently moved, and we have been waiting to try out new churches. There is one in particular that has a really wonderful children’s program, and I would love to try it out. The only problem I face is connecting on my own. I can’t go into her class with her, so I will have to be a grown-up and be with the other grown-ups. It sounds so silly, but for years I have been content with my handful of quality friends and Matt. If not our church, it will probably come up in sports, school activities, neighborhood events, etc. I know this is something I must tackle, as it has claimed enough of my time and energy already.
Thankfully, Bellamy is so brilliant and amazing, even as a baby. She is so happy, well tempered and sweet. Her disposition draws people to her, and her beauty catches the eye of many. Despite my shortcomings, I do not fear for her abilities in any way. I merely desire to be a part of it with her, as opposed to watching from afar. I want to be an example in every area of her life, especially relationally. I want her to look up to us in our marriage and our outside influences. I want to show her what it looks like to give to other people and receive in true adult friendships. I don’t want her to see me unable to make friends, and I don’t want her to question her ability or be hindered in any way due to my personal struggles.
On the outside I feel we look a certain way, and it may be assumed we choose to be together a lot and exclude others. That’s simply not true. Although I have a wonderful husband and delight in our time together, we both came to this point together and are looking forward to making strides for our daughter. I heard so many times, “You will do anything for her.” It’s true! This is a very uncomfortable thing for me to address, but she is worth any embarrassment or hurt I may encounter along the way as I fumble through conversations and try to be cool and not awkward.
If you’re like me and think about all the social functions in your future, know that you’re not alone! Someone else gets it and knows not everyone is as equipped as they may seem. I believe the powerful force behind us is family. I sometimes feel I could move mountains with my love for her. Surely, I can find a way to be courageous enough to make some more friends. In the end, she has made me better in every way, and I just want to give her even a fraction of it in return. As always, Bellamy, this is for you sweet girl. I’m not perfect, but I am willing to confront my deep imperfections for you and our future together!