Oct 23, 2009

Courage when your heart is out and running around the neighborhood

When Ella was first learning how to eat grown up food she once choked on a piece of watermelon and I had to grab her up out of the highchair and flip her over and smack her on the back. The piece of watermelon came flying out of her mouth and she laughed. I was so mad at her for laughing. I was genuinely scared that she would turn blue. For months after I had to make the effort to have strength when she ate. Sometimes she'd gag a little and have to re-chew whatever it was I had given her. I'd have to resist the urge to flip her over and smack her on the back again so that she could figure it out on her own while I just stood by in case of emergency. This was an excruciating exercise in parental courage.

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.


Kiki said...

Just found your blog through Rebel and found I'm already linked! You're so on top of things! And I totally know what you mean about fear...I try to not freak out and worry, and you really do have to take it a day/week/month/new adventure at a time!

Jenny said...

heck yeah I linked to you! And that'd be a great Book title "Momming, one adventure at a time."

Liz said...

I'm glad you let her go places, my mother didn't let me bike/walk anywhere till high school. It was ridiculous! Then when I started driving, rarely could I go hang out with friends in town. I'm so glad I'm not living there but if I don't find a new job by mid November I'll have no choice but to move back :( and that means derby is out of the question if I can't pay dues myself.

Jo said...

Being a mom is dying a thousand deaths, each one a bit of grief as we say goodbye to our little one and greet the more mature version of our child. I don't think it ever gets easier!