A friend said recently that he could understand my wanting someone’s hand to hold as I sit in church.  I’ve thought a lot about the truths and lesser lies in that statement, and I’d like to share what I really want.

Tim Parkinson on Flickr

Tonight my daughter came to me, asking again if she can go to camp this summer. I’ve been actively avoiding this topic for months.  I said no when it first came up. No, you can’t go. No, don’t ask me again. And then I doubted myself.  Maybe she should go… maybe she’s matured enough, recovered enough, strong enough…  Maybe this will be an opportunity for her to make friends, to start sprouting those wings of independence she’ll need in a few years when she leaves home. Maybe she’s strong enough.  But maybe she’s not.

Three years ago she went to camp, and it didn’t go well. “It didn’t go well,” meaning a few stolen knives, several broken down doors and one psychiatric hospital later she was still trying to recover. And that was with a dedicated camp counselor assigned only to her.  To say it was traumatic for everyone involved would be a gross under exaggeration.

But she’s doing better. Shockingly, miraculously better. She’s wanting to make friends, trying to understand people and humor and friendship, noticing other’s emotions and showing empathy.  All things I was told, once upon a time years ago, she would never be able to do.

Nicolas Raymond on Flickr

So I question myself.  I look at the camp papers, hear her talk excitedly about the fun activities the girls will be doing, and what I want– what I desperately yearn for– is a partner in this crazy ride we call life.

I want to sit up together at night, after the kids are in bed, and say, “What do you think?  How is she doing?  Is she ready for a few nights in a row away from the security of home?”  I want someone else who loves her and knows her and cares about her to talk with me about the pros and cons, to weigh the consequences, and to share the burden of making a decision about something that should be so straight-forward, but is about as clear to me as how to fix Social Security.

At the same time as the camp decision, I’m starting a new job and trying to stretch myself like Elasti-Girl to accommodate one more necessity. Fitting in twenty hours a week should be easy– another straight-forward issue– like resolving the national debt.  I’m also working on a really great project with my older daughter, making a book about my mom and her childhood. While I love the project, I wasn’t prepared for how facing the reality of my mom getting older would shock me like tripping over a tombstone in the dark.

Aimee Heart on Flickr

In all of this, I want a partner. When I lie down at night I want to feel that while mortality involves death creeping ever closer and children who need more than I know how to give, it also involves having someone with me to brave the storms, solve the puzzles, and touch toes with under the covers.  I want someone to put his arms around me at night and tell me I’m doing a pretty good job and it will be ok.

I don’t want someone’s hand to hold in church. I want someone to hold my hand in life.