Monday, 7 May 2012
17. Its a little TOO quiet..
Those who know me well know this: despite all my complaining and feeble protests, I love a busy household. I love the excited chatter of my three girls and their friends bouncing off the walls and the tactical scheduling of their increasingly busy diaries. And at the end of the day, I love going into each daughter’s room and saying “good night” and trying to make them laugh or smile one last time, just before they turn in for the night.
But whenever any one of them goes away on a sleepover, our home takes on a different dynamic, and everything is just a little bit more subdued. Life becomes a little less hectic and crazed. A little too quiet. SOB!
I remember the first time Faith went away for a week-long school trip when she was 9 years old. She was my first to go away for longer than a night and I was so excited for her. I dutifully attended all the briefings set up by the school to “assure parents” of the wonderful adventure the children were going to embark on and how these first steps towards independence (at 9!) would be beneficial for them in the long run. We were then sent away with a swaddle of consent and medical forms, indemnity waivers, packing lists to fill-out and study.
And so the weeks flew by quickly, until suddenly, it was time for us to see Faith off on her trip. Determined not to be teary, I gave her a huge hug and told her to have a fantastic time. She quickly disappeared into the animated crowd of children and as the buses pulled away, she quickly mouthed “I love you”. I felt something tug at my heart and found my eyes wet. That walk back to the car was the longest walk ever. But I didn’t have time to dwell on it as I had to rush back to my two other little girls who needed me. When I finally had a moment to myself later that day, I was shocked at myself. Hang on! What is that feeling in my chest? It was an ache! An actual physical pain that refused to go away. No, I was not having a heart attack. I was just missing my child and it manifested into something physical, only going away when she came home.
The same thing happened when Tia went away, although, this time, it was only for 3 nights. Out of my three monkeys, Tia is my shy, can-be-reticent, and can-get-over-emotional one. I was beside myself with worry. Will she like the food? Will she get scared? Will there by anyone who would give her a reassuring hug? I canvassed the nicest teachers I knew who were going on the trip, tearfully asking if they would please keep an especial eye on her in case she became overwrought.
Well! I don’t know what I was so worried about! When I picked Tia after a very long drawn out three days of chest aches, sleepless nights and Matt laughing at me, I asked about her trip. Tia excitedly raved about how much fun she had and how she LOVED being away! “LOVE BEING AWAY”?!? What is she talking about? I MUST be so delusional with happiness I was imagining things but talk about surprise! “Really? That’s great!” Mustering up as much lightheartedness in my voice as I could. I then asked if she missed anything / anyone from home (HINT! HINT!). Her response? "No." She said. "Just your cooking." I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry! Here was my middle child who ALWAYS talked about how she was NEVER moving out of home, showing me I had worried unnecessarily! So she didn’t miss me per se but hey, I’ll take ‘missing my cooking’ any day if it meant she found the courage to find qualities in herself I had been trying to instill.
Sigh. I have wonderful trailblazing girlfriends with children who are now young adults off exploring the world – without their moms. All around the globe, I hear too many accounts of ‘adieus’ and wonderful homecomings and each time, emotion overwhelms me and I feel a melodramatic tug at my heart. I realise the adage “children are only on loan" is so true but I have such wildly conflicting feelings about the day when my three will undoubtedly take off on their own adventures -- with my blessings.
But I have a plan! To continue building an unbreakable bond where they always will feel the need to come home often, if only to share a meal, a joke or two, and a glass of wine. Hmmm... what shall I cook tonight...