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Strong like a Girl

Organic Mama

Posted on July 12 2019

Okay you're going to think I'm overly dramatic, but hey, that's okay.

Today was a real right of passage in our house.  My oldest daughter left for overnight camp.  Granted it's only 3 days, but she's never been away for more than a night, and never this far.

She's going to a weekend winter-camp with her very very best friends, and a group of girls from her grade and the one above, at a beautiful camp site about 5 hours from home.

With the gorgeous winter weather we've been enjoying over school holidays (sarcasm here), there is freezing cold weather and tons of snow expected, which when you're a kid, is a dream, and when you're the parent of that kid, well, cue anxiety attack in 3...2...1...

We spent yesterday packing, labeling, and trying on her snow gear for the first time.  She was nervous about how to wear it all, so we did a practice run, and then I made her an ordered list of what to put on in which order, to make it easier for her.  This turned into my putting each outfit complete into a labeled bag, so she would know what to wear when, but with strict instruction to completely disregard and wear whatever she wanted, when she wanted.

I think it just made her feel better to know she would know what to do if she got nervous, and you know what, it made me feel a little better too.

I left her little notes, and treats in her bag, and her little sisters did too, which I know will lift her little spirits should home-sickness hit, which I hope it doesn't.  I

I've been brave, not showing my cards how much I'll miss my first-born around this weekend.  I knew if I cried, she would, and on the big note I wrote her, there are explicit instructions to NOT cry.

I remember my first trip to sleep-away-camp.  It was three whole weeks, which was an eternity.  

My first night there, I went to write in my diary, and found a note my mom had written about how special I was and how much she would miss me.

I cried my little heart out.  I still remember the smell of insect repellent, my torch, that creaky bottom bunk, my bunk mates comforting me.

And you know what, when we came back from dropping her off at the bus, there was a beautiful note from her on my dining room table, about how we will see her soon and she'll have fun.  

She's strong, my girl.  She's had to be.

You see, when she was nearly 7, I noticed something on her back I didn't like.  I called the doctor, who thought I was overly dramatic, and said she would see me at her 7 year visit in 2 weeks.

She didn't notice anything at the appointment, and when I asked and pointed out my concern, she gave me a look that made my stomach drop, and said, we'll talk in a minute.

We kicked the kids out of the room and I said to her "how worried am I right now?"  She said "about a 7."  I turned cold as ice.  

She sent us for an ultrasound which was inconclusive, and said the next step was an MRI.  Something didn't look right.

She got us into an MRI three long and torturous weeks later, and the tech took pity on me--he had three girls of his own.

I sat with her the whole time keeping her calm, being strong, falling apart on the inside.

Half way through, the tech came in and said I was in luck--the radiologist happened to be there, which never happens, and wanted to speak with me.

I went in, heart in hand.

He said to me "Your daughter has idiopathic scoliosis, and that is the BEST news I could give you today.  People don't get that sort of news here..."

I was so relieved and grateful I didn't even have a chance to process anything.

It's been 4 years since then.  She wears a Boston brace 21 hours a day in an attempt to stave off surgery, which may or may not happen--you see there is no rhyme or reason--it all kind of depends on how she grows.  She may have to have surgery after many years of wearing it, she may luck out and not.

We have bi-yearly x-rays, and quarterly appointments with her brace specialist.

She's had to learn to be strong and resilient, and thank G'd her friends are super supportive.

I didn't make her take it to camp. I wanted her to have a break, to feel like a 
"normal girl," and not have to worry about it.

We are so proud of her.  If you are familiar with a Boston Brace, they are not comfortable--a hard, rigid plastic, a corset of sorts, that we buckle tight around her torso.

In any event, I hope this is the bravest she ever has to be. That this sets her up for any challenge she may face in life.

Wishing you all a beautiful weekend with love,

Organic Mama xo

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