Ups and downs, ins and outs, curve balls and random collisions. Who said Life was going to be easy? As I sort it out, here's a collection of my essays, newspaper columns and mental meanderings about family, friendship, ecology, politics and a world that goes bump in its fright.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

It Does Get Easier

A quick conversation with my daughter and once more, I'm smack in the middle of prying myself loose from fear, dread, and horrifying, meticulously detailed scenarios of how badly things could go wrong.

This response first introduced itself when I let her walk with her brother to the playground down the street from our house. It reappeared when she asked to spend the night at a friend's house and again when she entered junior high school in a new town. In fact, I can safely say that every transition in my daughter's life, all major and many minor, has been accompanied by her mother's hyperactive imagination freaking smooth out. For the most part, I've done a good job of keeping it to myself, although she would dispute that.

(Trust me, baby, I have. You might think I've been a worry wart, but you don't know the half of it. I might have been saying, "Are you sure you know how to cross that street?" but inside I was screaming with certainty that life was getting ready to place-kick you into a terrible, terrible storm and I needed to STOP IT RIGHT NOW!!!!! I just kept my mouth shut about the very worst of it and let you hear what I simply couldn't suppress.)

The initial reaction hasn't gotten any less intense, but I'm happy to report that at some point, it becomes easier to hear fear's static and move on to the next station on the maternal dial.

Except every now and then. Like now.

My daughter, who is a healthy, successful and actually sort of gorgeous adult now, called a few weeks ago and reported that she and her boyfriend have sold her car, bought a used truck, which they are outfitting with a camper shell and maybe a bio-diesel converter, and they are driving from their home in Berkeley to spend four months in Costa Rica, surfing. They will take their boards in the truck and surf all down the Pacific coast.


I mean ... unh ... couldn't you just fly down there and send the boards?

No, they can't. Some of their other surfer buddies (my daughter, raised in the desert of New Mexico, now cannot be kept out of the ocean) have made the trip regularly and say it's safe. They've read books, studied maps, talked with experienced travelers. It'll be OK.

I was just finally beginning to make peace with the fact that she shares the ocean with sharks and now, this? Maybe SHE could fly and her boyfriend could find a Spanish-speaking friend and they could drive the boards down and meet Ariel down there?

"Good one, Mom," she says in that voice that tells me this is going nowhere. "That would sort of defeat the 'me-surfing-all-the-way-down-there' part, wouldn't it?"

Oh, lordy. This makes me crazy. There's only one thing to do. I call or email each of my friends and I fret, loudly, long and often. I ask them what they think. "Well," my friend Tim says, "I had a nephew who was going to do that and at the last minute he broke his leg and couldn't go." And I think, "hmmmmm. .... "

When I catch myself seriously thinking that her breaking her leg would be an improvement, I know it's time to rein myself in. I call her.

"Is there anything I can do to dissuade, discourage, distract or just outright prevent you from doing this?" I ask. "Nope," she says. "Not a thing. We're going."

"OK, then," I say. "I support you completely. What do you need from me?"

Because, you see, she actually is one smart cookie. She's also serene and kind-hearted and a wonderfully cool head in emergencies. A registered nurse, she's exactly the kind of person you want standing by your bed when you regain consciousness. And her boyfriend Jereme is also smart and capable and kind. Neither of them has the tiniest shred of the Ugly American to them, no arrogance, no sense of entitlement that says the world owes them something just because of who they are.

And yes, things can happen. Bad stuff. But the way I tried to raise my children, and the way I try to live my life, is that at any given moment, there's an even greater chance that something truly wonderful can happen. Looking back, I can see that not one of those terrible things I imagined actually did happen. Not one. So, expanding my vision beyond my worrisome obsession, I can see that this stands a very good chance of being the adventure of a lifetime. And it's exactly the kind of thing that I would do. In a heartbeat, if only my arms were strong enough to pull me up on a surfboard and I weren't worried about cellulite and losing teeth to a bad wave.

So I bless them on their journey. I'm sending phone cards and sunscreen. And maybe one of those Global Positioning thingies on their truck.

See? That wasn't so difficult, now was it?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

aw, ma, that's so sweet:)
i love you, you'll hear from us as often as possible and get lots of
postcards. and when we get back there will be a zillion pictures to look at.

We got all our vaccinations, so we won't get Typhoid, Rabies, Hep A,
Tetanus, or Malaria. So cross those off your worry list. Not Dengue,though. There's no vaccine for that.

Love you,

2:18 PM

Anonymous Nancy Haynes said...

KC, you sound just like me - screaming NNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! at the top of my voice - but still inside my head. While what is coming out of my mouth, "Do you have a back-up plan, just in case?"

What an adventure that will be for them! What an adventure motherhood is for us!

See ya soon!

8:02 PM


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