Yesterday I dropped Maddie off at Girl Scout camp for her first extended (a week) camping experience. As we’ve prepared for this event, her emotions had been all over the place. She was excited. . .then angry that she was going to miss vacation bible school at our parish (and blaming me for not scheduling everything better). . .nervous. . .and then excited but nervous.
On the hour and a half drive to camp Maddie ate a bag of popcorn and talked a lot. Eating and nonstop talking are her outward signs of nerves.
When we were half way there she declared that her stomach hurt.
But it was when I was standing in her doorway the day before and watching her pack I thought to myself that I will probably be in this very same spot a few more times while she is under our roof. I will probably be watching her pack and getting ready to go somewhere–away from us. It is inevitable and necessary and I got a little teary-eyed at the whole thing.
But I didn’t say any of this to her. I want her to go out and experience the world–even if the first experience is Girl Scout overnight camp. I want her to meet new people and see different points-of-views and experience things that I’ve never seen or done.
Having children is actually a drawn out process of letting go.
Three girls who obviously new each other and were bunking together were a little unsettling for us at first as they bounced around the check-in table where hot and annoyed parents stood in line with a handful of papers to be turned into the head of the camp. A dad corralled the girls and took their picture–all three smiling with arms around each other.
“Three’s never work, Maddie, ” I whispered, hoping that it was reassuring.
“Whatever, mom.” Her curt answer reaffirmed that the scene had amped up her nervousness.
Then as we headed toward the cabins one of the girls said to Maddie, “Hey, we need another cabin mate. Do you want to join us?” and the sigh was nearly audible from my lips.
And then the leaving was easy. Not that I wouldn’t miss her and wonder a few times a day what she was doing, but from my own leavings I knew that the anticipation is always worse than the actual event and that this, the first of many goodbyes, would be okay.