Catching Up

She wouldn’t respond. 

Instead, she seemed to crawl as far into her shell (me) as physically possible. 

“What’s your name?”  “What’s your favorite color?” “Can I get a high-five?” 

All met with the same response. 

Eventually, I faced her and explained, “When someone asks you your name, you say, ‘My name is Elizabeth.’  When they ask you your favorite color, you tell them.”

A light-bulb went off- for both of us. 

Elizabeth’s entire life has been permission-based.  She does not try a new food, unless explained-by-me that it is safe for her to eat.  

And as the youngest of four sisters, she has always looked to others to lead the way. 

So it finally made sense, why she had never responded before: she had never been told to.

And it finally made sense to her, that is was ok to respond. 

She was simply catching up. 

I shared this revelation with a friend of mine  and her response, more-or-less was, 

“Well, yeah.”  

We dove into a conversation about our childhoods, how they’ve shaped us and ultimately how different they were. 

Her military-based family traveled. 

But her mother was always there and my friend always felt seen, supported and loved.

My mother traveled and always asked if I knew how much she loved me, for her own reassurance.

I realized, no one ever taught me, like they taught my friend. 

I’ve always just figured it out, on my own. 

I left home at 15 for boarding school, never to return home. 

I married at 27, had a child by 29

Making my own sense.

Exploding lightbulbs.

Catching up. 

Camille Vaughan Photography

Our Way

I’m not sure if it was the package of Bertie’s Every Flavor Beans or the recent memory of Halloween, but when one of my daughters asked our youngest if she wanted to try a questionable jelly-bean and I hesitated, not knowing the allergens involved, I saw, for the first time, our youngest change. 

She understood and was affected. 

Rather than ignore, I followed her into her bedroom and quietly conversed, “Hey, how are you?”

Forlornly, she looked at me and I knew the jig was up.  

There was no more fooling this three “and-a-half” year-old.  

I decided to meet her where she was.

“Are you sad because you aren’t able to eat the same things as your sisters?”

It was a first admission of mine. The terrible truth almost always substituted or downright avoided. 

Instead of answering, she buried her head into my shoulder and wept.  

What is a mother to do?

Pancakes, muffins, cupcakes, waffles, even popsicles I can substitute.  

But jellybeans on the fly?  I’m out of my realm.  

She’s too old to fool. 

Instead, I meet her. 

Yes, this sucks. 

No, this isn’t fair.  

Yes, you can be sad and angry.  

And together, we will find your way, child.  

We are more than the worst thing that has ever happened to us. 

We will find our way.