Weekly Column: Therapy

©Stephenie Freeman

My computer keeps telling me that I have “unresolved security issues.” How my computer knows me so well is beyond me.

Even though it might not look like it, my computer has me pegged. From the outside you simply see a 36-year-old woman with children, but on the inside I carry around the insecurities of a 13-year-old teenager with braces.

On the inside, deep in the crevices that I don’t like to clean, you’ll find a nervous mother who is worried that I am somehow screwing up my children without my knowledge. If you get really close you’ll see the grey hairs that even the most expensive trips to the salon don’t seem to cure and notice the weird line that has suddenly shown up around my neck. In truth I am what some refer to as a “hot mess.”

Along with my motherly anxiety and worry, I am carrying around a teenage-sized dose of insecurity and doubt. Will I be good enough? Will I succeed? Will he still love me? Will she want to be my friend? It’s the sort of drama that Judy Blume young adult novels are made of.

Are you there God? It’s me, Stephenie.

It baffles me that I have these insecurities about making new friends. I have lots of friends so it has been proven that people enjoy my company, and I certainly have bigger worries to focus on that have more lasting meaning in my life, but it’s the silly things that tend to dominate my worry-wart tendencies.

Take the PTA for example. Last year I attended what meetings I could, but kept a safe distance from the gaggle of moms that were running the school. Like most cliques—and let’s face it, cliques are just a part of life I don’t care how old you are or what setting you are in—these moms seemed to be part of the “In Crowd.”

I just wasn’t sure if I was cool enough to be one of them. I was in junior high all over again.

But I was a mom with young children and time on my hands, and before the year was over I was elected to the PTA executive board, handed a notebook, and given a title. Without even realizing what was happening, I was suddenly part of the “In Crowd.”

Like soccer practice and Gymboree class and ballet lessons, the PTA is a great place for mamas to make new friends. But developing new friendships requires time and effort, two things that most mamas don’t have a lot of. Making friends just doesn’t come as easily as it used to.

I often marvel on how easily my boys make new friends. We’ll be at the park and within ten minutes they have made emotional attachments to half of the kids there. If my boys have insecurities about making new friends, they are nowhere to be seen.

So I’ve decided to follow my kids’ lead when it comes to making friends with these PTA super moms in the “In Crowd.” Just like my boys, I am going to run up and smile and offer to share my snack. I’m going to be eager to make playdates and jump up and down when I run into them at the mall. I most of all I am going to put in the time and the effort that’s required when developing long-lasting friendships.

Because like our newly-elected U.S. Senator Al Franken has taught us all to say: I am good enough, I am smart enough and doggone it, people like me.

2 comments :

Rita Ortloff said...

Um, HELLO? I thought you were one of the cool kids at the Pi Phi house.

That redhead in the corner afraid to make friends? Um, that was ME!

Way to get elected to the PTA. Now you're one of "those moms". The ones in the "in crowd" : )

Julie M. said...

Wow ... who needs to pay for therapy when I have Stephenie! I think you've read MY mind!