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Each morning I open my eyes and if it is before six, I grunt loudly at the little girl standing far too close to my face for such an early hour and bark at her to go back to bed. She turns and heads loudly back to her room where I can hear her whimper. It doesn't take long for me to melt and either physically retrieve her or call her back. What's fifteen minutes anyway when you are now wide awake? Wouldn't I rather have her warm snuggly self beside me, rubbing my back, wrapping my arm physically around her body, and whispering how much she loves me before leaping across my body to retrieve the remote and put on the Octonauts. ("Creature report, creature report, creature.report.") It won't be forever that she will wake up and instantly want to be at my side. This much I know to be true.

We fall easily through our summer rhythym now, you know, because it will be over in two weeks. Swimsuit, sunscreen, clothing, bug spray, shoes and socks. Connor's diaper, clothes, and sunscreen. I toast mini eggo waffles with jam and syrup or put together to go bags of cereal with sippy cups depending on how far we have fallen behind. I braid the left side of caroline's hair into a tight french braid and join it with the rest of her hair in a ponytail with double elastics; the only style besides a bun to outwit two sessions of swimming a day.

We head first to school for Connor and along the way the topics of discussion have changed from "look, a bird!" to things that make me take a deep breath before I speak. Topics this week have included scabs, construction, how airplanes fly, and anxiety. Anxiety. Every morning her tummy hurts at precisely the same moment en route. This morning I gulped and had at it.

I explained to her that sometimes when we are feeling nervous about something we can feel it in our body. I asked her if she had realized before that she tells me her tummy hurts everyday as soon as we pass her bus stop before turning towards school. Our gaze met in the rear view and she shook her head, unsure of how to respond, eyes full of confusion. I reassured, the tummy ache was real, Mommy knew it was real, but it was probably not coming from a reason she could understand. A five-year-old doesn't understand anxiety. A five -year-old knows her belly hurts.

She's too little to have to cope with this. My sensitive Boston College loving (Lord help us) Caroline has declared she does not want to go to college. When I push for a reason, it's that Steve and I won't be there, that she doesn't want to leave home, or sleep somewhere else. Whenever we talk about growing up, she is Peter Pan, she wants to be a kid forever. Peter Pan who lives with her mother and father and never leaves home. One morning on the Cape we were pulled over waiting for Steve to return to the car at the market and I was scrolling through music on my phone for the kids to listen to. I played her Miranda Lambert's "The House That Built Me" and halfway through she started crying. "I don't want to leave you." I think it was the "you leave home, you move on, and you do the best you can" line that got her. I know it always gets me.

There were tears yesterday that caused major deja vu over camp ending in two weeks. You might recall there were similar tears a few weeks before Pre-K ended. Transitions. Anxiety provoking, those transitions don't just apply to the start of something new, but even to the start of a new day. We have some work to do, but my mama heart was beaming that she was sad to see camp coming to a close. It's such a special place and for now, within this family anyway, it is all hers. "I don't want camp to end, I want to stay there forever!" I told her she couldn't, which got a huffy "WHY?!" I reminded her the camp would be closed, the docks pulled in and stored for winter, the Wibit broken down, the cabins locked tight. Presenting the reality might not have been my best moment (more tears), but I think I more than made up for it. I gave her some advice that her mama could have used about five years ago, when she was going back to work and worrying about leaving a teeny little Caroline at daycare. That Mama sat in the backyard in CT on the hammock and cried big tears while gazing up at a beautiful little baby girl. That Mama counted and dreaded every single day leading up to the first day of daycare. This Mama confidently looked back and said, "I know you don't want it to end, nothing good should ever have to end, but if we think about the ending, we can't enjoy the now and there is a lot of now that is worth smiling about today." I know, I shock myself sometimes. I encouraged her to think ahead to a brand new school year, full of promise and fun and new friends and reminded her that at the end of the 180 days ahead of her, the docks would be back in the water, the cabins swept clean, the flag on the flagpole, and we will once again be tortured with neverending camp songs. I can't wait either.


2 comments:

  1. I think it's time we evolved out of the anxiety gene. I mean we're smart enough to know that you don't jump in front of moving cars because you'll get smooshed without pangs of fear reminding us. Anxiety is so 50 generations ago.

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  2. Here, Here! it is about darn time to get rid of that pesky gene. Perhaps when our children are of child bearing age they can fill out bubble sheets (by the power of their minds of course) and check off the things they want to include in their future bundle of joy and the things they could do without. I'd keep the heart on the sleeve, appetite for knowledge, and empathy and say see ya to the emotional rollercoaster and duh, the anxiety.

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