Monday, April 17, 2017

17~ She Is Ready

Maria, our youngest, our child who has counted down to 6th grade camp since first grade. Packed, with a book (Lord of The Rings,) her favorite pens, a journal, Blue Bumby, the extra shoes suggested on the packing list, and body wash & shampoo all-in-one. Just everything, you know, because that's how you pack when you send your child to their first away camp. If not actually, then at least mentally, you pack for every possible circumstance and foreseeable situation, and you pack for improbable things like blizzards, wolverines, impromptu poetry slams. Everything, because if I cannot be there to kiss her goodnight, to hear her reading aloud, if she has no kitties to greet her when she enters a room, then she should have a suitcase full of clean socks and love, and affection, and best wishes, and all of our support and encouragement, and a toothbrush.

I am trying to be funny, to make everything humorous, and I think this is because I hesitate to admit how difficult all of this is. She is our youngest, our baby. I love and trust everything about her, her intelligence, her curiosity, her enthusiasm, her emotional capacity to empathize, to express her own ideas, feelings. She is capable, and more importantly, she is resilient. I know all of this, and also what our culture insists are the ideal things to do... to coax independence, self-reliance, to push them out into the world. I know all that, and I know this, too... it is an honor and a privilege to be her parent, to bear witness to her growth, her voice, her doubts, and revelations. I am in no hurry to rush this. Her life, all of my children's lives, are like marvelous novels, and I do not intend to re-write them or put calls into the editor, but neither can I put the books down, stop caring about the settings, the characters, the plot. I cannot help but wish to have more time, more space, to see how it will play out, to watch her choose a camp activity, to hear her impressions of archery, night hikes, camp food, to catch the details I know will not come out in her retelling, the highlight reel. In my defense, because I distinguish my love and curiosity from obsession and hovering: It's not about stalking her... it's just that I really miss her. I love to see her happy, I love to hear her laughter, to know when she's tired, or short, or insightful. She's such a compelling story.

I have been happy to love every stage of my children's growing up. Infancy, toddler years, betweens, teens... all of it. So, here we are, on the brink of new points of view, new kinds of stories... ones all her own, with parts hidden, and parts she will tell in great detail. And I will love this, too. And I hope that everything we packed, everything we've held up to her, and wished for her, I hope it's enough for a week at camp. And... and I hope that she sees, too, that she has her own resources, her own strengths, her own wishes, that can carry and sustain her, that get her through this week, and all the rest of her long, marvelous story.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.


Sylvia said...

Beautifully expressed, Natalie!

Adaliza said...

Have a great time, Maria. She'll be fine, Natalie - we all go through this angst - my baby girl is the eldest of the 3 and 31 years old! She phones almost every day - frequently twice - and I so well remember waving her off on the school bus for her first camp holiday. My friend, who was a text book mother, had hidden sweets in her daughter's pyjamas and all sorts of little surprises - I felt rather a failure when I learned that. But they had a great time, treats or not! I think it's important for them to know that home is always home and it'll be more or less the same whenever they return. Long may that continue for them all.