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Apr 30

Learning to See

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I see the picture of the girls’ choir on their weekend trip and my insides lurch with an ache that’s familiar as my daughter’s profile.

My girl didn’t go on the choir weekend. We paid for the trip. She never really wanted to go. We planned and plotted and called it scaffolding.

The day before the trip, she stayed home sick from school.

We prepped anyway. I steeled myself, grieved a bit, thought to myself, ‘she might not go.”

I hoped she would go. Before she was sick, I knew it would be hard to send her off. I also knew she’d have fun, she’d grow into the weekend because her choir director had her back.

My closest friends told me it was OK if she didn’t go. Good God, we wanted her to go. Our older daughter was on a choir trip already. My older daughter is nothing like my younger daughter. She’s been going to sleepover camp since she was 10. She never turns around to catch a glance of me after she walks toward wherever she is going. She is going, going, almost gone.

That’s not my younger daughter. It’s safe to say my younger daughter needs me 200 percent more than my older daughter.

I’m writing this because I saw the picture of the girls’ choir on their weekend trip and my insides lurched with an ache that’s as familiar as my daughter’s profile.

My daughter woke up Saturday morning and the first thing she said was she didn’t want to go on the choir trip.

We didn’t have a graceful morning. We want so much for our daughter to grow into independence faster than she wants to grow into it. We did have a graceful enough morning. She stayed home.

And we didn’t stay home. We went clamming on our favorite beach. An eagle swooped before us and picked up a vole and carried the vole to his/her ending. We drove to our favorite town by the Strait of Juan de Fuca. We hiked in the rain and were stopped by the hooting of two owls talking to each other. One owl flew by us to meet the other owl on a tree branch nearby. I read Sam Hamill’s poetry on the sculptures in the woods. Our youngest sat on a statue with our dog nearby and my husband snapped a picture that captured the moment. The moment says our youngest was happy: happy to be with us.

I’m writing this because I saw the picture of the girls’ choir on their weekend trip and my insides lurched with an ache that’s as familiar as my daughter’s profile.

To really see my daughter, I have to keep adjusting what I want. It doesn’t feel easy when I see the girls who seem happy to be on the choir trip. There’s an ache. There’s an ache that I have to meet with the truth: my daughter loved staying home. She’ll grow into her independence on her time table, not mine. And then I’ll miss her the way I miss my older daughter. Because life is weird. And while my ache feels real, her profile in front of me is more real than a picture that she isn’t in.

 

3 comments

  1. daniel

    Having a bunch of different kids means giving them the space each needs to become their own person in their own time. It is TOUGH. Especially when they are at odds with what other kids are doing in the house. That acceptance youu displayed here is not always easy, but is so worth it as you know.

    1. Nancy Schatz Alton

      I’m not sure why I need to publish a blog about it, but it feels like America loves an independent kid. Or maybe because it’s so easy to worry about our kids, that I need to share because I know other people are going through the same thing? Because I’m addicted to social media so I see the pictures that my kid is not in? It was a hard 24 hours, knowing she wasn’t going to go on her trip. Again and again, I have to readjust my expectations. Thanks for commenting.

    2. Nancy Schatz Alton

      I’m not sure why I need to publish a blog about it, but it feels like America loves an independent kid. Or maybe because it’s so easy to worry about our kids, that I need to share because I know other people are going through the same thing? Because I’m addicted to social media so I see the pictures that my kid is not in? It was a hard 24 hours, knowing she wasn’t going to go on her trip. Again and again, I have to readjust my expectations. Thanks for commenting.

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