A post resurrected from last summer that I never published. I am posting this while I gather some interviews for future posts. 🙂 Enjoy.
It’s been awhile since I’ve written. Turns out having two kids is a lot more like multiplication instead of addition, as a wise friend told me a few months ago. She was so right. Everything is multiplied…laundry, dishes, time demanded of me, anxieties, fears and most importantly, joys. It just depends which ones I’m going to choose to focus on.
It’s been very easy to focus on Gavin. He’s the baby. The new one. The most demanding of the two, especially since I’m nursing. He’s getting bigger faster than Heidi is, or so it seems. She has reached the kid stage, the stage where she doesn’t change quite so fast, whereas Gavin is constantly learning new things.
However, I had a bittersweet moment with Heidi this morning. At the beginning of summer, when school ended, I decided to get Heidi as involved as I could. She does better with structure and friends and not so much time alone with me. I also wanted her to have her own little world that did not always include her little brother. So I signed her up for her first day camp. I picked Disney only because we were going to be gone during the bug camp (she loves collecting bugs in her bug jug at home)
The morning of her first day of camp was an early one. She hadn’t slept well the night before and had gotten up early. This didn’t seem to bode well for her first FULL day at camp (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.) but we packed up her lunch and headed out.
All morning, she was chattering excitedly about camp. What started as “Disney Day Camp,” slowly morphed into “princess camp!” which slowly morphed into “Camping with princesses and finally….I CAN’T WAIT TO CAMP OUT WITH ELSA.” I just let it go (no pun intended). She needs to learn life holds disappointments.
“Now Heidi,” I told her, starting to feel anxious for my kid. I know how she gets when she is tired and overwhelmed. “If you need anything, you just tell the counselors. If you need a drink or a potty break or you just want to take a break. And if you need mommy, you just tell them and I’ll come get you.”
“Ok, mom, but I won’t need you. I’ll be brave.”
Ok, I’ll start crying now, kthanks.
We parked, and she began running up to the door ahead of me. Skidding to a stop, she whirled around and grabbed her lunch out of my hands and ran bravely up to the store.
However, when we got inside, she began to look unsure. She came back to stand by my side, leaning into me. The building was new, the counselors were new and all the kids were new. I could see it in her face…uncertainty, anxiety, a little bit of fear. I was very familiar with that feeling. I felt it often as a little kid and still do sometimes as an adult (going to the gym? UM, YES. Haha). In that moment, I was transported back in time to when I did things for the first time as a little kid, and I could feel that familiar fear again. I wanted to grab her hand, take her home and play all day, just the two of us.
I’m not sure if that’s because I wanted to save her from those uncomfortable, awkward moments in a new place…or if I started to feel a part of her growing up. I’m sure it’s a combination of both. I got a flash of me watching her get on the bus for the first time, and it all seemed to be coming way too fast.
I stayed for an extra couple minutes (“Mom, can you just look around with me first?”) until a counselor came to take her by the hand. Heidi looked at me one more time, and I could see her crystal blue eyes were water-rimmed. Her lips were tight, as she bravely kept herself together. I felt a little broken-hearted at her fear right then and a surge of pride for her willingness to try something new.
“Bye mom, I love you.” And she gave me a small smile to reassure me.
I left, got in my car and I cried. (You guys…it’s not even funny what a mess I will be when she starts kindergarten…I CAN’T EVEN.) I called my mom. Is Heidi too young for camp? Should I have not left her? I don’t want her to be scared! And kids are mean! What if she’s bullied? Or they leave her out?
My mom reassured me that of course Heidi would be fine and that she needed to experience the fears and triumphs of growing up. When I got home, put Gavin down for a nap, and sat down finally with some space to think, I realized it’s amazing walking with Heidi through life. It’s like reliving it all again. So far, it’s been so easy to focus on the fun stuff I get to relive…playgrounds, making cookies, Christmas morning, imagination, playing tag, dressing up, parades, puzzles, books, coloring…while forgetting that growing up includes so many firsts and fears.
I remember feeling the things she is feeling for the first time. I remember a lot of my firsts: my own first time at day camp (I cried a lot that day), my first day of kindergarten (I cried that day too), the first time I was teased, my first sleepover, my first best friend, my first trip to the ER for stitches, my first crush, my first heartbreak (ironically enough, that first heartbreak was committed by my husband himself when we were 18!) among so many others.
As I thought through all that, I started trying to think of what I wanted Heidi to remember through these firsts. And all I could think of was reminding her that God walks with her. She may not even realize it until she is grown…I certainly didn’t…but I want her to know He is a breath away always. He is there when mommy and daddy can’t be to hear her prayers and see her through.
Thinking about it that way calmed my heart. While she may not always listen to me, I do have the tools now to help her through these firsts the best I can.
It also made me realize that still applies to me now. I am not done with firsts. And in some ways, I’ve learned, but in many ways, I’ve forgotten. As I walk with Heidi through life again, I am not as much re-teaching myself but learning from her. That first day of camp, she was the one reassuring me. Something in her wanted to keep it together FOR ME. She wanted me to see she was brave and she wanted to push through this new experience in her own little kid way. She knew she could stay with me, and that I couldn’t go with her where she was going. So she made a choice, and she was brave.
It’s a reminder that sometimes I have to gather my courage and press forward. I’ve noticed that when it seems God has stepped back, at least in my experience, I feel the undercurrents of His voice in my heart saying, “Just be brave.” It’s amazing what you’re capable of when you finally stop waiting for God to make things easy and you get through challenges on your own.
Kids are a good reminder of all things good and strong and wonderful in life, including (and most importantly) the simplicity and joy of God.
“I have a lot of faith and a lot of fear a lot of the time.” –Anne Lamott, Small Victories
“I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Mark 10:15
I thought this was a good post for Easter week. Every year I want so badly to participate fully in Lent…to reflect and write and inspire and grow. And each year, I fall short. At least in my mind I do. Life gets busy, my schedule is crammed, and I feel pulled in a million different directions. There seems to be no room in my brain for any kind of reflection, let alone journaling and fasting and writing.
But I think God’s grace is in that, and that’s the whole point of Easter. It’s not by my own power or volition that Jesus came for me. It’s not by my own efforts He sends His Spirit to guide me. And it’s not my goodness that makes Him love me.
May God’s love set you free this week to count your joys and to love others and to keep it simple. May God’s love make you brave.