Take a Deep Breath and Let Go


The morning sun was already cooking the asphalt, and our shirts quickly dampened with the weight of humidity and anxiety.

She fell in line behind the other girls, excited to start her adventure, her neon-green hair bow a beacon in a sea of light and dark heads.

We parted with a smile and a hug and kiss, her eyes pleading, "I can do this, right?"

"I love you, you’re awesome, and you’re gonna have a great time!" I struggled to hold my voice steady as I put on my dark sunglasses, lest my eyes betray my sound exterior.

I peered above the crowd on my tip-toes, keeping my eye on that neon bow until I saw it disappear into the depths of the bus.

The other parents were reminiscing about their camp days as a kid, and the fun of two solid weeks with no parents, no little brothers or sisters, and endless activities for entertainment.

Doubts crept into my head, and I beat them back with the images of the smiling kids in the brochure.

I turned to walk the flank of the bus, searching for a glimpse of her, to wave goodbye one last time. I spotted the neon bow in a window seat, head bent forward, sobbing into her tie-dyed pillow.

My whole body contracted, curling up with Mama-Bear pain, at the sight of my baby’s tears.

Every mother knows this feeling. When she hurts, I hurt.

I kept a reassuring smile plastered on my face, tears concealed behind my dark glasses, and watched with the other parents as the bus sputtered to life and grumbled out of the parking lot, headed for the interstate.

I hugged myself tight, cradling my pain in my arms like a baby.  Containing it, willing it not to explode inside of me like a tsunami.

Once back in the privacy of the car, the tears flowed freely, and my mind churned, wondering how I’ll ever rest until I see her face, happy, again.

My best laid plans of relaxing and celebrating the freedom of having one less mouth to feed for the next two weeks were foiled.

Upon returning home, my body kicked into mind-numbing, busy-mode, and I set to work cleaning out toys and closets, fighting against that crying-face image of my girl stuck in my mind.

Five hours and six giant trash bags later, I felt a sliver of relief, enough to allow me to stop for a break.

Looking for solace in the interwebs, I pulled up the camp website, and much to my wondering eyes did appear, a happy-faced, smiling picture of my girl.


Relief flooded my lungs, and my shoulders unclenched a fraction of an inch.

A smile unraveled my lips, mirroring the joy I recognized in her face.

My back began to uncurl, and I stood a little taller.

She made it. She’s happy. All is well.

My story is not unique.

I’m just like every mother since the beginning of time.

Except that I am hers, and she is mine.



Yeah Write.  It's where I do my thing.  Come do yours, too.

Comments

  1. She is going to be amazing at camp, trust me. I am not a parent, but I went to sleep away camp every summer from the time I was seven until I was a freshman in college, first as a camper and then as a counselor. Those first few minutes on the bus were always hard, but then every single summer was the best one yet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Samantha!!! So glad to hear this. In all the pics I've seen on the camp website, she is smiling ear to ear, so I know she's having fun. I know she'll get homesick from time to time, but it's so good for her develop independence and self-confidence.

      Delete
  2. When she comes home with her new found independence, you will feel an even stronger sense of pride for her!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I look forward to it! Thanks for the words of encouragement and for taking the time to comment.

      Delete
  3. I'm bawling. She's adorbs. This camp thing sounds hard !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw, thanks! It's definitely not for the faint of heart!!

      Delete
  4. well, you know how well i do at separation, but having said that almost all my friends kids go to sleepaway for either a half or full summer! they ALL go. and they LOVE it. it's hard to leave and everyone misses everyone, but i know she's having the best time!! go her! go you! such a touching tender post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for the encouragement! I have yet to receive a tear-stained letter, but I'm bracing myself. It is a growth experience for both parents and children.

      Delete
  5. I really loved this, and ached along with you. My kids are only 3 and 5, so many of these moments are yet to come, but I totally have gotten a glimpse in that moment when I've watched some kind of hurt take place in their little world that I can't fix--an unkind word, feeling left out, failing to navigate preschool politics--and it totally makes me clench up inside. Ugh. I hope one day my kids will go to camp and they will love it and I will not die inside. Lovely post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Kirsten! There is that very clichéd saying that motherhood is like a piece of your heart walking around outside your body. But it's so true. All the hurts that happen to them, big and small, hit us where it counts, too.

      Delete
  6. Darn you. Thank goodness I don't wear mascara.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great writing, you said it well. I had a flash back of my daughter crying when I dropped her off at preschool. Her teacher told me to leave quickly, and I got in my car, but I was very upset. When I arrived three hours later, she was happy. Thank goodness children recover quickly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Dorothy. Oh, the crying at preschool...I remember it well. My youngest is not nearly as sensitive, so his drop offs are pretty easy, thankfully. So true, they do bounce back quickly!

      Delete
  8. I just love the ending to your story.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thank goodness there was that photo! This dragged me right in deep! Amazing writing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! That photo saved me from the straight-jacket that day.

      Delete
  10. Replies
    1. Definitely. I won't breathe a full breath until she's home.

      Delete
  11. Beautiful post - I love the picture! Enjoy these moments. I long for the going to camp days, because they're only gone for a short time. My daughter is twenty. She got on a plane two years ago, and moved across the country. I sobbed all the way home from the airport, and for many days after. Thankfully, we have long talks a couple times a week, but I don't get to see her nearly enough :(

    Karen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I can't imagine! I know my day will come. My daughter is already saying she wants to live in California (we live in TX).

      Delete
  12. Oh sweet baby girl's smiley face...phew! Glad I am not alone in the need to restore order at home when everything else feels out of control. Oh how I felt this one!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you could relate. And yes, when in doubt, clean something out!

      Delete
  13. What a beautiful story. I was on the verge of tears until I saw her photo. Youre a great writer.

    ReplyDelete
  14. oh my heart. i'm so glad you found that smiling photo.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me, too. And every day since, there have been smiling photos. It's all good!!!

      Delete
  15. I absolutely love this post. I'm not a mother, but I can imagine what that feels like from the other side. I'm 21 now, but I still try to make sure my mom knows things are well =) This summer I was in Nepal for two weeks and couldn't contact her to tell her things were good for over a week. It really does make you sad to think someone you love may be sad.

    You're right, it's a story as old as time. I'm glad to hear she's having fun at camp though! She'll probably be so excited to tell you about it when she gets home.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, and I'm so glad you enjoyed it. I always try and convey my perspective so that anyone can relate, not just a mother. You are a doll for letting your mama know you're doing OK!!

      Delete
  16. This was brilliantly written. Truly. I felt every heartbreaking moment of the separation and sadness. But felt such joy at her happiness and your relief. You are indeed an excellent writer.

    My kids are away this week with my parents. It's different than camp in many ways, except for this one . . . I've spent most of the week boxing up clothes that have piled up in their closets (some for years, gah!), and I'm very proud of my 19 boxes of outgrown clothing removed and stored in the basement or heading to Goodwill! You can see the FLOORS even. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. It's easy to write about something when you feel it so strongly. And doesn't it feel good to see the floors!!

      Delete
  17. Thank you for the ending! I didn't even realise how clenched up I was feeling until I read it. Brilliant writing!

    ReplyDelete
  18. What a touching picture of motherhood! For a few minutes, I felt your anguish, then your relief at her well-being. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, motherhood is quite the roller coaster!

      Delete
  19. She is just beautiful and happy in that picture -- good for you for letting her go and good for her for having fun!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's tough to let them go, isn't it? But healthy for everyone.

      Delete
  20. She looks sooo happy in this picture! My kids haven't braved summer camp yet though they've been away from home before so I do get this. Beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She had never been away from home, so this was a big deal. Whether they're going to camp or grandparents or somewhere else, it's never easy!

      Delete
  21. As always, your post was heartfelt & gripping! You have a unique perspective & gift for sharing it. Well done, my friend! I absolutely LOVE this post!

    ReplyDelete
  22. As always, your post was heartfelt & gripping! You have a unique perspective & gift for sharing it. Well done, my friend! I absolutely LOVE this post!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Such a cute pic of your daughter. Our daughter went to camp and cried after we left. Thank goodness no cell phones because she would have been texting constantly how miserable she was. Well, we picked her up two weeks later and she had a blast. It's hard on mama.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular Posts