The first time you were immersed in water, your infant wail mimicked a fire alarm, alerting everyone on the hospital floor of imminent danger. The nurse came back, with a warm, red-faced bundle, happy to hand you over, sweat beading at her upper lip. Your first bath at home went much the same way, my face not beaded with sweat, but drenched in tears. I could never quite get used to your deafening cry. It made me feel helpless as a new mother, inadequate even at the basic task of bathing.
A decade passed and now, you are in different waters. The unpredictable, dangerous, stormy, and tumultuous waters of adolescence leave me again feeling despondent. Some days you come home teary eyed and red faced, much like that little baby I held in my arms. I can no longer wrap you in a blanket or offer you consolation at my chest. Your cries are still deafening, only it is no longer the volume of your cry, it is the gravity of your tears that shake my soul.
Stranded on the shore, I want to throw you a life raft, some device to save you from the treacherous waters you are now treading. Like the fishermen’s widow waiting for her husband to return on the widow’s peak, I anxiously stare at the horizon, hope you will survive this perilous voyage. And just when I think the seas of adolescence have swallowed you whole, I see your delicate head–the same soft, curly brown hair I kissed for the first time—pop out of the sea. Sometimes screaming, sometimes gasping for air, sometimes peacefully bobbing along, but always, always riding the ebb and flow of growing up.