The year was 1992. I had my Umbro checked shorts, two pairs of Keds, a Saved By the Bell inspired sleeping bag, and a pillowcase my mom had sewn for me. No worries that I didn’t really know the super-shy partner I had been assigned, thanks to a pair of inseparable besties in my GA group. I didn’t care. I was heading to CAMP!
It was just as glorious as all the big girls said it would be. The songs, the mountains, the pool, taps at night, counselors that doted on us, Poptarts for breakfast…..all of it. Unlike many girls my age, including my assigned bunk-mate, I don’t think I spent one second being homesick. It was way too fun for that.
Summer after summer I found myself back there. I got called Haley Mills for my Parent Trap haircut. I learned songs that I still sing to my kids when they are dragging on a hike. I met Jesus there. I got my first job there. Actually, working at camp is the only job that I’ve ever had except teaching. I learned hard life lessons there. I became brave there. Eventually, during our years on full time staff, we started our family there.
So all of that to say I had some unexpected mom emotions well up in me this week as I helped Chica prepare for her first week away at overnight camp. Something like fear mixed with sadness mixed with worry mixed with get-yourself-together-she’ll-be-fine. I can distinctly remember my reaction to moms who stuck around just a little too long when they dropped their kids off at camp: “When my kid gets big enough to go to camp, I will not be doing that mess. I will drop her off and go. Not try to make her bed for her, not cry, NOT baby her. Moms like that just make it worse.”
Except that day came today, and it didn’t go like that exactly. I did not make her bed, and I did not cry in front of her. Actually, I didn’t even hug her goodbye for some reason. But as she stood up on the steps and introduced herself to everyone, I bit my lip willing the tears not to come. I saved them, but only until I was back in the car.
I stared here at the cursor for a few minutes trying to think of exactly where the tears came from. The tears came from so many places. Thoughts of my mom getting me ready for camp and wondering if she felt all the same things. Realization that a week will go by where I won’t remind her to brush her hair, and she’ll be just fine. Hope that she’ll find a friend who gets her and will make the week that much more fun. Knowing that having experiences apart from us, from me, is what growing up is made of. Jay joked when I got home that “even stone-cold Tracy” cried. Yep. And I’m owning it this time.
Have a glorious week, Chica!