Blog Your Blessings: Rip Tide II in the Granite State


When my daughter and I related to my mother how we managed to swim our way to shore after being carried out by a rip tide, my daughter said, "I thought you were pushing me away."

"Your mother was pushing you in," my mother said to her before I could say a word. My mother knew, as a mother would, that of course I was doing all I could to get her to a safe place.

It's what you do.

That was a big moment for my daughter. She kept her cool, she swam the way I had taught her too, and she kept on. She grew with every wave that swept over her little face but did not take her down. She emerged from that water knowing she was strong.

She had her second rip tide moment of the summer this week in New Hampshire. Please God, she will emerge from it with self-confidence, poise, and the joy that comes from both.

On Wednesday we drove 4.5 hours from Connecticut to somewhere in the middle of the Granite State for five days of all-girl sleep-away camp. She was looking forward to being cabin mates with a girl she knew from last year--the daughter of a neighbor whose own daughter would be there, too. Last year she had been assigned a friend. This year she wanted the same one.

But the kid didn't come. And the kid didn't tell Adella she wasn't coming. So there was my shy and gentle daughter overwhelmed by the prospect of not knowing anybody in this vast sea of girls.

She cried in that quiet, inward way of hers as big tears fell from her eyes and splashed on the ground around her. She wanted to go home. She didn't want to be there. "Take me home, mom."


My heart broke for this kid, and then I heard my mother. "Why waste five days in this beautiful place over a kid who didn't even bother to tell you she wasn't coming?" It is hard to point out to a child that someone they think of as a friend doesn't care about their feelings, that the little stinker isn't a friend at all. How many times had my mother said that to me?

How many years of my own life had I endured friends who came my way because they chose to, because they told me they were my friends? Enduring my daughter's scowls and taking in her clear and pointed anger with me for pushing her away, I thought of a person who called herself my friend for years but who was about the meanest, most selfish person I had ever met. She had called herself my best friend; I had accepted her standard of "best" and endured her for, oh, 25 years before decided I was entitled to friends who were kind. While my daughter's situation was far less dramatic--she knew the girl only through camp a year ago--I didn't want her to get into a habit of letting the choices of others shape her life, her fun, her perception of herself.

I told her the week in New Hampshire was my gift to her so she could be herself, make friends and have fun. "It's for you to be you," I told her, and I added, "You might want to get your face off the floor because when you look all sad like that, people get the idea you want to be alone and they will leave you alone." And I heard my mother again: "If you want to have a good time, you will. If you don't, you won't. It's up to you." (Or was that dad?)

I stayed with her. When she went to the bathroom, I let her counselor know she was a shy kid but a sweet one and she needed encouragement. I did all I could to weave her into the conversation of the other girls who were there. Finally, another mom whose daughter was also nervous heard me talking about playing Rummy 500 with Adella and suggested my kid teach her kid how to play.

There it was: a way in for the shy girls. Before I knew it I was told for the second time I could go. The Evil Mother Who Said No even got a kiss and a hug.

So there it is. So far, so good. I guess Sunday I'll find out if she emerges from this rip tide a bit taller and more self-confident--or not. Here's hoping.


  1. Anonymous7:02 PM

    She's like her mother,so she will be fine.

  2. that's how we learn from experiences and advice from those wiser we have been there done that. life is a strong teacher with many important lessons that we only learn by pushing through them. good work mom!

  3. You did great! It's sometimes hard to see at the time -- for both of you, but somehow you both learn. I have four -- grown now, but I remember and sometimes I think/know they taught me as much as I taught them. Still true as a matter of fact!

    Have a great weekend, Sandy!


  4. This is a beautiful expression of a motherhood moment! I hope I remember this when my daughter has a "friendship" like this. She'll be in middle school this year. I was the shy, quiet type and endured many such relationships that I wish someone would have said "Friends don't treat each other that way."

  5. What'd I tell ya?

    You've done a great job with her. She's gonna be fine. At camp and in life.

  6. What a great story. You have a very wise mother and she has a very wise daughter.

  7. She is lucky to have you for a Mom. I told my own son many times when he was disappointed over somebody not showing up for something,"This (campout, den meeting, sunday school,etc) is for those who showed up today." Its hard.

  8. How beautiful to read about the generations of your family. Your mom and you and your daughter are
    Funny, my Saturday post is in a not totally dissimilar vein!

    Aloha my gentle friend-

    Comfort Spiral

  9. What a beautiful story and what a good mom you are. I think you did the right thing. Please let us know how it turns out.

  10. Anonymous1:09 AM

    Thanks for visiting my site! Have a wonderful day!

  11. Your story really touched my heart! There's nothing stronger than a mother's love and you, my friend have demonstrated just that with your story. Thank you for sharing a piece of your heart and soul. As always - you write beautifully!

    Thank you for your kind response to my post!

    Hugsssss, Susan

  12. Anonymous1:56 AM

    That was beautiful..
    Things will change and be calm soon..Chill and enjoy each moment as it comes..
    You did your best so now let's see what future holds for you..

    This was really touching...Keep writing:)

  13. what a great lesson of life! this reminded me a few things about myself. thank you!

  14. Sandy: Wonderfully written of a Mother's love.

  15. Oh Sandy, when it comes to children, I thought our experience is only confined to our cultural background, to our upbringing. Little did I realize we all go through the same drama and the same predicament as mother as with our daughters.

    One time, my eldest blamed me for raising them "goody - goody". She pointed out that all the while I only showed them beauty but failed to tell them the ugly part.

    That part made me speechless but I opted to remain quiet and didn't offer an explanation. Whether it was right or wrong, I firmly kept quiet.

    In truth, I could have told my girls about that aspect of life, you called rip tide. But then again, through my philosophical mind, I wanted my girls to find out themselves what life is outside their comfort zone and see if they could handle it. They knew my overprotectiveness. Yet, in that case, I let them explore the outside world away from home.

    As it turned out, they did learn two things themselves including friendship. That there are only two polarities that exist: positive and negative.

    I could not ingrained to them the negative side of life, least they become paranoid. However, I did equip them with caution. Now, I feel they realized the values I taught them some of which were left unspoken.

    Bit emotional in this post Sandy.

  16. I see blessings all around. . . sometimes we don't recognize them because we don't look beyond at the moment. Even when daughter doesn't realize it, you are truly a blessing to her through this guidance. I hope she ended up having a wonderful camping experience and realizing it. Sometimes we set our expectations for blessings too low and don't allow God to "spread the blessings" because we have narowed our friendships to just one.

  17. A wonderful story, Sandy, and I love the liquid thread of water weaving through it!

  18. Mother's love is not about clearing the path for your child nice and smooth, but giving her the tools to clear her own path for herself. You know how to do that, encourage, understand, stand by... but not doing too much for her.
    I have a little daughter who still has a long way to go. Too many things are still frightening, and too many doors still remain closed for her because of her timidity, her fear of life.

  19. such a wonderful mommy :)

  20. such a wonderful mommy :)

  21. She will be just fine. While you worry she will be playing and bonding with another girl. Having a fine time this summer. Mom will survive too.

  22. You're a great Mom.. as is your mother. Your daughter will take those fine qualities that each of you have handed down. One day she'll tell of how her mother helped shape her own daughter or son's life. You're doing it all right. :)

  23. Very, very nice Mom job, Mom! Adella is really blessed - now, don't blush. 'Strue.

    However, while truth be told, the girls, upon your departure, whipped out the green pit boss eye shade visor things they wear in casinos, and set up a Vegas Night for the whole camp. The decks were triple shuffled by "Aces" Adella. The first topic of conversation: "Gee, I thought they'd NEVER leave!"

    Be sure to get your cut when Aces returns home.

  24. I am glad that you have been able to bond with her and to help her grow as a person this summer!

  25. You wrote this beautifully! I'm so proud of her (and you) - I'm sure she will be chattering your ears off with stories form the week when you pick her up. :)


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