A few days prior, we had a small scare with my son at the ocean beach at Smith Point. The kids were within yards of me and my eldest daughter yelled over that it looked like her brother was having trouble.
She came over to hold my four-year-old’s hand while I dove under the first breaking wave and got to where he was. He was swimming against the riptide, hard, and getting tired.
Another wave was coming. “Quick – dive under it” I warned. We both took a tumble under it – when we came up we were right next to each other and I guided him to shore. The lifeguard had us in his sights and was ready to dive in to assist if necessary.
I asked him to take a drink of water and lie down for a while. He was a little shaken, as was I. The rest of the time he chose to dig tunnels in the walls of sand, and I kept our little one busy making sand castles while watching my two older daughters and their friend like a hawk.
I worried about my daughter’s upcoming trip, knowing that the riptide would be worse on the barrier beach and I would be a ferry-ride away. As much as I love the beach, I was glad when it was time to go.
Monday morning I took her to the ferry. Her baby sister came to see her off. We were the first ones on line, and I had to fight not to cry as the time for her departure came upon us. She is a big girl, taller and stronger than I, with a good head on her shoulders. Yet sending her off to sea was a big step for me.
One of her friends was dropped off to leave on the same ferry, and I was glad she would have company on the way there. I gave her a big hug and asked me to please call me when she got safely to the other side. The gates opened, and they walked through, crossed the ramp onto the boat, and seated themselves on the top – on the opposite side, where I couldn’t see them.
My four-year-old and I waited for the boat to leave. We watched it as it got smaller and smaller, until we could no longer see it. I saw her going off to high school – which she will be doing in two weeks – and eventually leaving for college.
When I got home, my husband heard me sniffling in the kitchen. “What’s the matter?,” he asked.
“What – you don’t know?” I finally answered.
“Don’t worry – she’ll be fine,” he comforted me.
“No it’s not that so much – it’s just hard to send her off like that when I’m so used to all my kids being close to me.”
“She’ll always be our baby, no matter how big she gets,” he said, completely understanding my thoughts.
Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller
The Divine Gift of Motherhood