independence day

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So, you know that mom who you see at camp drop-off who’s sobbing behind her sunglasses hoping that no one will notice? Yeah, turns out I’m that mom. #I’mScrewedWhenThisKidGoesToCollege

~ Diary’s Facebook Status, June 28th, 2012

*

This growing up stuff is good and bad, good because it moves our babies away from us and into the world they must deal with to be successful, and bad, because it moves our babies away from us and into the world they must deal with to be successful.

Love you,

Dad

~

I’m not quite sure what we’re supposed to do next. We’ve set up Katie’s bunk and found a home for all of her stuff. We’ve helped her tack her pictures to the wall by her bed – a collage of love and familiarity. We’ve met her bunkmate and we’ve wandered around the grounds with another couple of families. We’ve dipped our toes in the lake and we’ve peeked into the mess and the nurse’s shack. We’ve joked with the counselors and we’ve met the directors. I don’t want to leave, but I’m afraid of lingering too long.

This wasn’t how I’d pictured it. It was supposed to be different. Katie wouldn’t be standing alone on her cabin’s front porch when we left; she’d be, oh, I don’t know, doing something – playing a game, singing a song, getting to know people, making s’mores for heaven’s sake .. but doing something. This just isn’t the way it was supposed to go.

I look over to a patch of lawn, just a few yards away. A group of kids is playing some sort of game with a couple of counselors. They’re all running after his flashlight, shouting and laughing hysterically. It looks like a ball.

“Katie,” I say, “why don’t you go join those girls? That looks like fun, doesn’t it?”

She looks over at them. I follow her gaze and look at the scene through her eyes. Almost all of the girls look younger than her. By a lot.

“No thanks,” she says. “I’m not really in the mood for that. I think I’ll just go hang out in my bunk for a little bit.”

This isn’t the way this was supposed to go. “Hang out in my bunk” is terrifying me. “Hang out in my bunk” is alone. Alone isn’t the way this was supposed to go.

“Honey,” I say carefully, “I’m a little worried about you hanging out alone right now.”

Two girls walk by, giggling. We watched them run to each other earlier, thrilled to have reconnected with last year’s friends.

“It’s just that, well, this is the time when people are meeting each other, making connections. I just don’t want you to miss out on that.”

She looks at me thoughtfully.

“It’s ok, Mama,” she says. “I won’t spend too much time there. I just need a little time by myself, ya know?”

I do know. But it still scares me.

“Are you sure?” I ask.

“Yup. I’m just not ready yet. But I really will be social; I promise.”

There’s something in her face. A new confidence. A self-assurance. She knows what she needs.

The camp director walks over, smiles at Katie first, then at us. She asks if we’ve been down to the waterfront. Katie tells her that we have and that she can’t wait to swim. The director looks at her. “I can make that happen,” she says. “See, it says it right here.” She points to her name tag. The one with the words CAMP DIRECTOR written on it. Katie laughs. The director looks back at her. “Yup, swimming it is.” She checks her watch, then heads off after promising that she’ll get the whole camp in the water before the day is through. She leaves Katie with a wink that implies the rest – Ya know, after we get these pesky parents out of here.

Katie smiles at me, then wraps her arms around my waist. I hug her with everything I have and tell her how proud I am of her. I know it’s time, but I hang on for an extra beat.

I’m not ready for this, but she is. So I take a deep breath and walk to the car, leaving my heart behind.

*

Hugs from Daddy

Hugs from Mama

 Hugs from little sis

Ready

22 thoughts on “independence day

  1. You just took me on such a rollercoaster ride of emotions in that one short post, starting and ending with tears in my eyes. Your dad’s comment…so so true. So amazed by that little lady on the porch. So in awe of how you’ve brought her to that point.

    • thank you, sweet girl. i would argue that she’s brought us to this point. i’ve just been along for the ride 🙂

  2. What a gift you guys have given her. She is at a place where she can be herself – her bright beautiful self. I am sure when she returns she’ll have grown and changed, but her amazing heart and soul that your family molded within her will be intact. That camp is lucky to have her!!

    xoxox The weeks will fly!

    PS – I love the top!

  3. She’ll have an experience she’ll never forget. Good on you for giving it to her… The space, the time, the independence.

    Enjoy your time with B. 🙂

  4. Reading your post made me feel like I was right there with all of you and boy did did I sob too. I cried like I was leaving my own kid. Congrats to Katie for taking this big step and hugs to you for letting her.

  5. I only read your blog if I give myself permission to cry first: tears of grief, tears of recognition, tears of joy. For moms like us, it’s a needed release. Thanks for another lovely post. Much love.

  6. I went to summer camp for 12 summers. Its where I made my best friends. Its where I learned to be independent and confident. It was the place that allowed me to be me. Im a FIRM believer in overnight camp and just brought the boys to tour my “alma matar”- youngest is ready to go next summer yet he will be only 8 so Im not sure Mommy is ready. I read your post and felt every emotion- im sure ill be there at some point but Ive met your daughter briefly and have no doubt she is thriving.

  7. Your daughter is something else. So incredibly special. I hope she has the time of her life and comes home just in the nick of time before your heart explodes.

  8. She is so ready, and all because of you! What a gift you have instilled in her, she is a wonderful kid and I’m sure has won the hearts of many new friends already! What a beautiful post!

  9. Your dad’s comment made me get all misty…I find myself wishing for my oldest to be more independent, and then when it happens, it is so overwhelming… in a good and bittersweet way. You’ve done so much to prepare her…I’m sure she’s going to have a great experience.

  10. Love this! Of course you can’t help but worry… But your girl is so ready… She is gonna dongreat! Hang in there! 🙂 beautiful
    Pics as always too!

  11. well, very sad. i know she’ll do well, but that’s a painful moment, the goodbye. i know it’s tough for you and luau…and i can’t imagine what it will be like for your tiniest sweet pea…i hope she manages okay with such a big change. you guys: adored, thx for sharing this.

  12. Growing up, your most often used statement was, ” I will do it myself “, so what would you expect fron your acorn??? Payback is a ………, isn’t it?
    How proud she will ALWAYS make you, sort of like her mother huh!
    Love you,
    Dad

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