“Mommy, It’s just that… making new friends is hard for me”, the words tumble out of his mouth as we drive home from school and discuss the upcoming stream of birthday parties that we have to attend. It comes out of his concern that there will be kids he doesn’t know at the party. And my heart stops for a beat and breaks just a little bit. I feel a lump forming in my throat and I push back tears.
“I know buddy. It’s hard for Mommy to make new friends, too”. And we are both silent, we both understand each other, but I can’t leave it at that.
“But you know Jackson all of our friends were once new friends. You didn’t always know your school friends but now they are your friends. New people are just friends we haven’t met yet”.
It’s not the first time I’ve spoken those words and it likely won’t be the last. “New people are just friends we haven’t met yet”, it’s the truth and yet even I have trouble believing it. When I’m in a group of people I don’t know, I never know what to say. The shy, introverted side of me comes out and I clam up. I second guess everything I say. I stand off to the side and wait to be invited in. I pour myself another glass of wine and wait for it to set in.
And I hate that about myself. And I hate that I have passed that one to him. That the things I like least about myself: my shyness, my anxiety, my tendency to cry at the drop of a hat, I’ve passed all of these things on to him.
I hate it because I know how hard it can be to live with those things. I know what it’s like to feel like an outsider in a large group or what it’s like to get nervous about simple social situations. I know what it’s like to not know what to say or do. I know what it’s like to be overly sensitive about everything.
And our similarities cause us to butt heads. They make people say, “Yes, he’s your child” and I see it I see those faults of mine in him”. They make me be tougher on him because I know when he needs to be pushed. And at times they make me cry.
I like to think that us being alike can be a good thing. That I can help him overcome these things. But on days like today I’m not always sure. I’m not sure the words are enough. And sometimes knowing that he gets it from me, just makes me feel helpless.