The other mommies do not understand. They do not see.
Behind my smiles and laughter - kisses and hugs - how hard it is to let go of my daughter's hand and watch her walk away.
Through the crosswalk and down the sidewalk. To her classroom, her dance class, her friend's house right down the street.
No one sees how hard I work to let her go, to give her the independence she needs...that I want her to have. I need to be confident in her strength and her will...because I cannot always be there.
But that knowledge plays tug-of-war with my heart - a heart that knows the unnaturalness of a child's death - my child's death.
That very unnaturalness is what has intensified this struggle beyond what I felt before. Beyond a mother's natural nervousness and concern as she watches her child's stumbling first steps...or ruefully contemplates sports tryouts or first dates.
My only advantage is I know it is stronger now - I know the reason, the cause. I fight it - I have to think...Am I being overprotective? Is this because I fear losing her?
Sometimes, I have to take a deep breath and let it go. I think about her in one year or two. Would I be as worried, I ask myself, if she were just a little older?
I think I master this...mostly. That I succeed...almost all the time.
There are some women who understand. We talk about it - our successes...and failures. When we held them too tight. Or checked on them one time too many at night. Maybe we called our sitter or even the grandparents too soon after leaving the house. It is a compulsion - sometimes far stronger than our ability to resist.
We don't, though, want our failings to be our children's. We try not to let our fear and worry show - because we don't want to infect them with it. Though we know all too well that life is uncertain and the world a dangerous place - we want them to have that same innocence we did before tragedy struck. As much as they can, anyway.