Monday, June 29, 2009

off on an adventure.....transitions in the making

After spending the week hanging out with her close friends, saying good bye to some who were taking off to do amazing things for the summer, and attending a party in her honour because she too was about to embark on an amazing summer, my daughter arrived home exhausted and contented. She summed it up beautifully by saying ....."I'm in such a good place with all of my friends. I'm ready now." In order to be ready for this next big step in her life, Martha instinctively knew what she needed to do. I could see it in her face. I heard it in her voice. Her words spoke volumes. She was ready.

Half way through last week, I wondered if she was having second thoughts about spending the summer away from home at a children's camp in a counsellor in training program. But, I could see the frenzy in her actions to arrange her week around the important friends in her be there to say goodbye to them as they ventured off and to say goodbye for her own sake. And it worked. Yesterday, we packed the van with an enormous amount of "stuff," stopped at the Blue Canoe restaurant for a big scarf of a breakfast and dropped her off at her summer home away from home.....Camp.

We stayed for a short her settled a little bit in a big cabin she will be sharing with 8 other girls the same age, and then wandered around the grounds of the camp as she moved into the group of new staffers. There was an immediate sense of belonging, as many of them were campers together over the past couple of years. There was also a sense of unease....a bit of discomfort, wondering what to say, what to it would all unfold.....the new kids standing back from the core group because they are so much more tentative. I watched, standing off the to side where I wouldn't be seen, knowing the butterfly feelings strumming in the bellies intimately. Long ago, I had been there too. First day of camp has that effect.

The day before, my daughter and I had talked on and off as she packed. I tried to hold back on sharing my own memories, and I tried not to give too many "words of advice....." which I'm apt to do. She knows most of my camp stories...... is aware that I'm still in touch with several camp kindreds. So, I didn't feel the need to rehash my stuff. I was just so pleased and excited for her and could see that as much as I wanted this opportunity for Martha, I felt at ease that she had made this decision on her own....that this is something she wanted for herself and hadn't made the decision to be a camp counsellor to please me. I listened to the stories of her previous week .... the ones she wanted to share with me, and I could see a really happy beautiful girl standing in front of me whom I thoroughly enjoy spending time with.

What I did decide to offer to the conversation? How exciting and profound her friendships with her peers will become through all the sharing and "new" adventures. I also told her that there will be times when you know instinctively you have touched a child in a profound way and it feels terrific, but that there will be even more kids whom you will never know about. They won't tell you....or they won't even know it until later in life, but that something you've done.... a kind gesture, a slow down listening moment....a memorable moment sitting around a campfire....recognizing their homesickness when words aren't spoken. You just never know...... but the more you interact with others.... all ages, the more you learn about your own gifts and your own self and the more of an impact you will make in the lives of others. It goes hand in hand.

While I watched the new staffers interacting for the first time as a group, I also couldn't help but think of how far my daughter has moved away from holding on tight to me. Painfully shy and unsure as a little one, I literally had to carry her into the kindergarten class. She would pout every time I left her, even if her father and brother were around. To say it felt claustrophobic is an understatement. It was difficult and I didn't know how to deal with it most of the time. Her first couple of attempts at spending a week at a camp were disasters. In fact, i had to go get her halfway through one stint because she wasn't able to calm herself down at night to go to sleep.

Determined to overcome this, and the shy girl label hovering over her head, she quietly made a concerted effort once she hit middle school when she was 11 years old. She joined a leadership program, took to the stage, sought out new friends who had common interests and began to blossom. It wasn't until months after school had started that year, that she shared her "plan" with her Dad and I. By then, her confidence was lifting and it was of her own making. Every year since then, our daughter has shown her beautiful true colours to more than just her immediate family.

This transition towards more independence ...... one Martha has chosen herself and one she has worked really hard to be as prepared as one can be on the cusp of being 16...... is symbolic on so many levels. We see it and applaud. We are tremendously proud of her; of how she composes herself, of how she intuitively can "read" others, of how kind and considerate she is when she calls us to let us know where she is and what she's up to ...... knows no boundaries. No doubt there will be stumbles and tears. No doubt there will be major frustrations and heartbreak. No doubt there will be even bigger joyful transitions in Martha's life. Who knows what the future holds? We can't predict and we sure as heck can't control it. All we can do is stop and recognize life events as they come and savour them as they evolve. Yesterday, I stood and watched and savoured how much I love her.

As much as we are missing her and will continue to feel her absence so much this summer, we all know Martha is where she wants to be. And because of that, I can honestly state "I'm ready."

I think.....


Anonymous said...

I remember when Martha was that shy, but beautiful little girl. I remember her putting on the brakes when we went to see Santa Claus or shriek when a bug flew near her. What I can't imagine is little Martha all grown up...

What a beautiful gesture this blog is to your daughter. The pain you express of your little girl growing up is heartbreaking...Tears are in in my eyes because in a few years, I'll walk in those shoes.

Your pride, love and admiration of your daughter is clear. Her love for you is real.

Very few parents clearly see their children relish in their life, Beauty and spirit.

A nice tribue for Martha....


Awareness said...

Thank you Charley! I'm so glad you read it. :)

Oh my God. Do you remember how you'd stand with her on your balcony when I said good bye to go to work and she would be so upset and then I'd call 15 minutes later and she'd be fine hanging with you?

Or remember when she and Jacob freaked over the thunderstorms and they would huddle on the couch together? She's still afraid of thunderstorms!!! What a little chicken she was/is!!

Awareness said...

She did get over her fear of vacuums! lol! Did Jacob???? hahaha!

BreadBox said...

Good luck, Martha! Tread your parents footsteps, and learn from them, and then (carefully, but not *too* carefully!) branch out and find your own steps to tread!


Marja said...

Good luck to you Martha She is beautiful Dana and how delightful that she is following a bit in yourfootsteps and yes I am sure too that what you put into it will eventually come out. My daughter is 16 and was shy too She really started to blossom at high school
I hope Martha has a fantastic time and you've done well Dana

Selma said...

You should be proud of Martha. She is a wonderful young woman. I would be beaming. What a bright future she has!

Anonymous said...

Morning Dana
What a great morning read with my coffee. Thanks for sharing that, my daughter is only 11 and this August will be at Otterdale for two weeks. Good for both of us, in many ways.
Take care

Anonymous said...

I remember clearly when Martha cried to stay near you!

Oh my gosh, I almost forgot the vaccum incident. Poor Jacob and his freak accidents.I think Martha was more tramatized by that then Jacob. He was so young that her forgot, Thank God!

How long did it take Martha to get over that?

She was a very loving little girl! Her white blonde hair and big blue eyes melted yor heart....

I love stories like this. Keep them coming Dana!


Independent Chick said...

What a great post. And what a great experience for her and those whom she will lead. Tres cool. : )

Awareness said...

Nice N..... I will pass on your good advice. :) Given that my daughter is a shoe fiend, she will tread with panache. :)

Marja...thank you. We are blessed. Martha has such a friendly personality and a manner about her that allows her to interact with people of all ages because she's no threat if you know what I mean. She's actually considering running for student council in the fall (the girl can speechify!) because she is interested in that sort of thing, and she knows she has the capacity to make a difference because of her ability to interact. We'll see in the fall if it happens. :)

Selma....She most definately has a bright future with so many options open to her. She has a real creative side... her fashion sense knows no boundaries and right now this is what she is focused on pursuing.

Linley....Good to see you! What fun we had at camp too! I remember the first day you arrived in my group. :)
Your little one will have a blast at Otterdale. Have you seen the place? It's HUGE and the staff are wonderful.... she of course will be in THE BEST of hands. I actually sent a link to this post to Jeff and Sue this morning....thinking they would like to read the perspective from a parent, and knowing they too are going through similar stuff with their sons.
Let me know how it goes....for both of you. :)

Charley....I don't know how long it took her. She still doesn't vacuum but that's because the darn thing seems to be invisible to her! hahaha!

Stacey....Camp is a great experience, but then I'm really biased! :)

Christina said...

What a beautiful story you have shared. Be proud.

This photo is lovely.

Awareness said...

Christina...thank you. The photos were taken by a friend of Martha's. They did this great photo shoot together a couple of weeks ago when it was raining.... GEE, it still is raining. I have posted a few of their gems.... they both are artistic and have a real flare for capturing interesting shots.

Mark said...

Excellent, glad you and her have both come to a place called "ready"!