Posted by: Kate | July 4, 2008

Philosophy, Amongst the Health Forms and Deodorant

We’re down to the mere details of preparing Emily for camp by now;  we’ve waded through several checklists and a surprisingly small pile is stacked in the living room, ready to be lugged along to the middle of nowhere with her.

She’s so excited she can barely breathe.  Her resulting overstimulated noodginess may well lead one of us to encourage that not-breathing by way of a pillow to the face.

I’m doing surprisingly okay with it all, really.  Staying busy and distracted, running a lot of errands and keeping a constant stream of small projects and books and television helps.  As does just allowing myself to wallow when the time is right, and sucking up and putting on a happy face when the time is right for that, instead.

I’m okay enough, actually, to notice some of the little emotional blips that don’t get filed under “because PTSD sucks.”  Like the fact that somehow Willem and I managed to get our signals crossed for a full week, and very nearly did not get the necessary all-clear form signed by Emily’s doctor.  You’ve heard the phrase, “Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part?”  Yeah, that was us yesterday, quite literally begging them to abandon their 24-hours-notice rule for paperwork.  And, bless their hearts, they did.  How crappy would it have felt for the kid to have spent the past year, from the moment she left camp last time, looking forward to this year, only to have to put it off a couple more days because her parents forgot to bring her vaccination record to the doctor’s office?

A lot crappy, I’m thinking.  Happily, we don’t have to take that particular exercise from rhetorical to actual.

I also had a bit of a weepy-Mama moment yesterday, when I ran to Walgreen’s for the few little things we didn’t have on-hand: shower gel.  Stationery.  Baby powder.  Deodorant.

Wait, what?  Deodorant? How is it possible that I have a child old enough to need deodorant?  Forget that I’d already decided that she was old enough to be sent away to the care of complete strangers for two whole weeks; she needs deodorant now, too?  Horrifying.

And, no, it’s true, she doesn’t really need it.  But I asked, and she said yes, she would like it.  So I searched and searched for an aluminum-free, not-antiperspirant product, and she has her very own little tube cake container thing of Tom’s of Maine deodorant in her bag.

She’s got pre-addressed envelopes and stamps and bright-colored paper.  Maybe this year she’ll actually write a letter.  Last year, she wrote several, but didn’t mail them.  I’m not sure what that was about; she didn’t think they could mail things from camp.

I’ve got an email prepared, to send out to family and friends, once I have her cabin assignment.  She got a bunch of mail last time, and still has most of the letters and cards squirreled away in her room.

She’s ready.

And me?  I’m as close as I’ll get.  It would be so much easier to just keep her home.  To never even tell her there was such a thing as sleep-away camp, to wrap her up in a safe little cocoon away from that which hurt me.  But what good would that do?  I can’t protect her from what happened to me, because you just can’t.  I was cared for, I was supervised, but given a determined perpetrator, bad things will happen.  You can lock your windows and bolt your doors, and someone can bore a hole through the wall or catch you in a parking lot.  You can eat only organic foods and count calories, and still die of heart disease.

Shit happens.

It just does.  And it’s my job, as a mom, to help my kids grow strong and smart and resilient, so that they know how to bounce back when the bad stuff happens.  It inevitably will, in some form or another, and that’s the crappy part: I can’t anticipate the form it will take.  But my daughter knows she is loved and cherished, and we’ll wait for the hurts to present themselves.  Proactive is all well and good, but it only goes so far.

And me?  Once I crawl out of my stress and bad memories, once I shake it off and give my husband that fake, watered-down, determined smile, once I pass through the first day or two, I’ll remember to be proud of myself for giving my kids the kind of childhood I wish for them, despite that stress and bad memories.

And isn’t that what it’s really all about?



  1. You are such a brave mom to be able to send her away to camp. I am not even close to that yet.

    In fact – when we told my son he was going to go to Basketball camp he started freaking out and wondering how long he was going to be gone. it took us a while to figure out that he thought he was leaving for the night…..he calmed down when we explained it was only for 3 hours a day and he’d be home afterwards. He is not ready to leave. Which is fine because I am not ready to send him.

  2. I’ve always had “average” camp experiences (the food sucked, I missed home, etc,), but I am no where near ready to even let my ten year old son go to sleepover camp. I can’t even begin to imagine your mental anguish.
    There is a crystal deodorant stone (aluminum free) that my husband and I both us (we have two of them, one for him, one for me – no sharing) and I plan to buy more for the rest of the fam, as needed. They are great! I bought the Thai Crystal Deodorant stone product, in case you’re interested.

  3. You are so freakin’ smart, and such an awesome! mom. Not letting fear control your life looks so easy from the outside, but imagine it takes an enormous and exhausting amount of effort.

  4. Kate I’ve been reading your blog for nearly 2 years now . . did you realise you have cyclical depression around camp time? I had the same feelings with mine although they didn’t go to camp but Vacation Care during school holidays . . sort of day care for big kids . . . because I had to work. The guilt used to kill me but they had fun. You’re right, you have to cut them free by degrees. I still have one apron string left even though it stretches across the globe!

  5. Good on you Kate!

  6. I love that you used the word “noodginess”! I reprimand my boyz quite often for being “noodgy”.

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