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There are so many things I ought to be doing now, but instead of tackling any of those MUST-DOs, I am sitting at the computer, writing, which is a decided NICE-TO-DO. Writing eases my mind; it puts order to the chaos. When I am stressed or even just busy, I make lists. I feel a ridiculously deep sense of satisfaction when I cross items off a list. Done. Done. Finis.

I am trying to get Large to embrace list-making as a way to manage his anxieties but so far, it’s not working.

He’s ten and a half years old. He is a smart, funny, socially-aware kid. He loves to read, tell stories (replete with sound-effects!), sing, dance, and do anything technology related. He is also a tougher critic of himself than anyone ever could be, including me. And I’m no picnic.

Every mother wants success and happiness for her child. But what I’ve come to realize is something I’ve known all along: Wanting isn’t enough. We can’t just want for our children to grow up and become confident, well-adjusted, compassionate adults. We have to actively help them get there. It’s what we do, as mothers – as parents – that counts, if not now, then later on.

Being a parent is often mind-numbing. The stalling. The bickering. The whining. The slammed doors and the I-hate-yous. I am far from being a perfect mother (or wife, but that’s another post) and I am embarrassed to admit how frequently I delve into my fiction cocoon or retreat onto the internet rather than engage, comment and interact with my offspring. Even so, I hold fast to the belief that good parenting is a cumulative process. Consider the little things parents do every day, even when our patience is spread as thin as peanut butter on a piece of Weight-Watchers’ toast. The gentle reminders. The sit-and-do-your-homework speeches. The pep-talks. The these-are-the-consequences dictums. The smiles and hugs and cuddles. The I’m sorrys. The I’m proud of yous.

God, I hope I’m right.

Liam, every one of us learned to walk one step at a time. The luckiest of us had someone’s hand to hold onto. Your family loves you! Don’t ever forget it.

She’s only 75 feet away from me but I know that she has gone further. Much further.

She’s with a group of kids we met just a few days ago. This amalgamation of youth is camp magic: 5 + 2 + 3 + 1 = 11 children, ages 3 to 12; separate clusters now established as a pack. I hear her voice lifting above the indistinguishable murmur of sopranos and altos. They are gathering sticks to roast marshmallows. Her words are an incomprehensible string, but her timbre is unmistakeable. She sounds thrilled.bonfire

The screened porch is my observation deck. I trust that I am unseen in the shadows of the gloaming. She is holding hands with two girls, a forever friend and one newly minted. They are skipping together. Their giggles tinkle on the breeze.

She is delighted by this spoonful of independence.

I am struck with melancholy for the baby she was. She who clung to my breast in what I grimly referred to as my “fourth trimester,” who flatly refused to acknowledge strangers’ salutations even when prompted by a parent, whose outraged screams reverberated in my head long after I had departed from her daycare.

She’s growing up. She’ll need me less in some ways, more in others. My heart swells and minutes pass as I stand motionless.

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