I practiced this courage again while watching her learn to swing, climb a ladder, go down a slide, and swim. Each time it got a little easier to bare. This week it's all fresh worry again, just like that first time I thought she was in danger of being killed by a bite of watermelon. Ella just wants to play with her pals.
They knocked and said "Can Ella come over to play?" She's gone out the door, to her friend's house for an hour. The three girls walk two buildings down on their own. I feel immediate panic. I think "Why didn't I make them play here?" I think about the million reasons I should walk down there, knock on the door and see if she's ok. I pace. My stomach hurts with worry. I repeat the words "Courage Mom" to myself. I stand at my window and watch for her running up the sidewalk towards home knowing she isn't due back for another twenty-five minutes.
I recognize this feeling and think about all the times I'll do this. When she rides her bike to the library, when she takes drivers ed, when she goes to college, when she moves out and so on. Every risk she takes will make me pace and whisper the words "Courage Mom" to myself. I clean a little and distractedly check my e-mail again when I hear the door open behind me. Ella comes in smelling like wind and kid sweat I give her the tightest hug. She says she had fun but is glad to be home and she'd like a snack. I say "Good." but I dare not say anymore as I happily get her a bowl of corn chips.