On Saturday I flew the two kids to the Midwest so I could drop them off at camp. Overnight camp. For two weeks.
I went to camp as a kid and loved it.
M went to camp as a kid and hated it.
Two differing opinions that warred in my head when we first learned of the camp this winter and I asked the kids if they’d want to go.
In my mind there was no doubt that camp would be a fantastic experience for them. Two weeks on a gorgeous lake surrounded by kids, going from one activity to the next…heaven to most kids. Right? I was even hopeful that a little separation would be great for Little L, help her become a little more self-reliant and a little less prone to asking for help before even trying something.
But I worried, because, in so many ways, they’re very much M’s children and taking them to camp halfway across the country didn’t leave many options for middle of the night pick-ups should things not pan out.
That said, the whole halfway across the country no middle of the night thing is also good. Sometimes not having an easy out is a good incentive for pushing yourself through the hard parts so you don’t miss the good parts.
But I still worried.
And then Sunday dawned and I had to load them into the rental to take them to the drop off spot. And then I had to hug them goodbye and leave them behind.
I was fine until that point. Riding my “Camp is a GREAT THING” wagon all the way. Until I realized I left my heart behind with them.
I drove away from the camp, headed into town for a few hours of sightseeing and reminded myself of all the good things camp does for kids.
I reminded myself that my job as a mom isn’t to shield and protect my kids from everything and anything, but to help prepare them for adulthood. Because, after all, we’re raising adults, not children, right?
My heart broke at the thought that I wouldn’t be there to cuddle Little L at night when she felt homesick, but I comforted myself with the thought that any one of her three counselors or the camp mom would be there for her.
My heart squeezed when I wondered who C would discuss her worries with, and then relaxed when I remembered she had her journal and a slew of new-found friends.
My breath hitched when I realized I’d forgotten to ask the director to make sure Little L ate, because she sometimes doesn’t and then she gets cranky, but then I reasoned that it would probably be apparent, very, very quickly.
And then I stopped myself from thinking of any other ways they’d be missing my ministering and doting.
I dropped my kids off at camp and I will not be privy to their day-by-day feedback. They’re going to have experiences I won’t be able to picture and might never hear about. And that’s ok. It’s sad, it’s hard for me, but it’s great for them. I will peruse the camp’s nightly picture uploads to look for smiles and happiness. And I will try not to worry if they look tired or a little sad. Because a nano-second captured on film doesn’t tell the story of a whole day, or a whole week. And I will remember that this is a GOOD thing.
For them, for me, for us.
I won’t always be there to hug them and pick up the pieces. I won’t always be close by for instant feedback or advice. One day they will be spreading their wings and going to college and then off to their own lives, and it’s never too early for them to know that I know they are smart, strong, resilient, and I trust them to stand on their own two feet.
Even if it makes me feel like I’m walking around completely empty when they are away from me.