Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Tick tock - a cry baby's countdown

Last week Tharaa (10) reminded me of something I'd been trying to forget. ''Mommy, I'm so excited for my school camp next week''.

Oh no. I am such a wimp about my kids spending time away from me. I pine, I weep and feel sorry for myself. Shakeel (13) has been on two of these school camps already. I remember his first time two years ago - I'd stared after the departing bus, eyes brimming with tears, lip quivering uncontrollably, snot suspended threateningly, trying desperately not to start bawling in front of the other parents, who calmly waved to their kids and then proceeded to chat to one another as if it were just any other day. I'd waited until I got into the car before bawling like a baby, sobbing madly at the cruelty of the school for ripping my baby out of the arms of his needy clingy adoring mother.

Then Tharaa asked, ''Mommy, will you cry for me the way you did for Shakeel?'' Yes, the fact that I'd been avoiding the thought of her leaving was an indication of how I felt. But suddenly I felt pressured. What if the morning of her departure arrived and I couldn't cry? What if I felt sad, but only burst into tears once she'd left - would she feel unloved? What if I had grown emotionally since Shakeel's last camp - and am now a normal well-adjusted mommy, no longer emotionally dependent on her kids? (And now I'm trying to ignore the rude laughter in my head).

But I needn't have worried. In fact, my concern should have been that I'd, once again, be threatening to embarrass myself and my daughter. Each time I looked at her as she excitedly queued and chatted with her little friends, I had to clench my jaw and pinch my thigh to distract myself from my threatening tears. ''Stop being such a baby,'' I rebuked myself, but the wimp in me ignored the reprimand and proceeded to tear up, smiling bravely at my daughter, who I am sure, no longer wished for her mommy to express her love through her tears, but by not embarrassing her.

Eventually the bus left. I swallowed the lump in my throat and smiled at parents' jocular comments to one another. ''Be normal,'' I warned myself sharply, '' for just a little while longer''. This time the wuss in me complied, docile and defeated. Resigning myself to the fact that my kids are growing up and embarking upon their own adventures without me. Trying to be happy for them so that they needn't feel guilty for abandoning me. And counting down the hours until the return of my baby - and the restoration of my incomplete and temporarily dismembered family.

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