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Boy Turns Man

I sent Mr. [C] Middle Schooler off to camp this morning and I am astonished at my reaction.

The boy will be gone to camp for a week. That's not really the biggest problem. He was gone for a week up in the big woods last year. The ginormous deal about this drop off is that I dropped him off and will not be picking him up this time. Due to divorce and vacation schedules, he will go with his father for a week directly after camp is over which turns his week long camp into a two-week long catalyst for crying jags for me.

I sure kicked it off right too.

Just picture it-- there are 10-12 guys (boys and leaders) standing around in a near empty parking lot with the first light of dawn peaking out over the horizon, ready to go on an adventure in their tough looking troop shirts and cargo pants and hiking boots. Really, all the boys seemed to seamlessly fit in amongst the men even though a day before it wasn't so. As we pull into a parking spot, I look over at my son and he looks like a boy to me. He does. He looks like my little boy who needs me. But then, the transformation occurs as he steps out of the vehicle, heads over to the group, and evolves into a young version of the self-sufficient man he will become. Right there. In front of my eyes. This mother's heart could hardly contain itself, but it did it because what little man wants his mother crying like a blubbering idiot in front of all his friends and leaders? (I felt like I was experiencing that First Day of Kindergarten Moment I never had when it should have happened. I really do wish I could be more normal sometimes. This nonsense of saving things up for later is ridiculous.)

The thing that sent me over the edge: I had to get out of the car.

I had this most brilliant idea of writing him a surprise letter for his birthday which will be celebrated while at camp. The problematic part of the idea was in having to walk it over to his leader after the aforementioned unforeseen transformation. The walk in itself was fine, but then I had to communicate out loud--yet secretively--the reason for the letter and it was just too much. I barely got out of there alive. I sucked the tears from my heart up into my head and could hardly keep the flood gates up. I was fairly successful until I got back into the vehicle and had driven past eye shot of the group, but then the battle was over. Surrender to hot tears and self-pity overcame the fortress. For as long as he has been alive, we have never been apart for this length of time.  I guess it's good practice for when he is grown.

What I'd like to know is how does a mother ever get used to this feeling of disconnection? While I astonished myself by getting so emotional today, I think I will astonish myself beyond description if I ever get used to my children being away from me for extended periods of time. I believe I see what I'm setting myself up for--I will love and teach them and send them out into the world like everyone else, but will always have a hole where they took a piece of my heart with them for their journey.

Needless to say, I don't know if I will ever survive these summer camps. 


Two beautiful things occurred in the midst of this moment.

First, I was shown great compassion by his leader as we spoke about the letter and pick up arrangements. The man isn't even a parent yet and cannot fully appreciate a mother perspective either, but I could feel his knowingness. This stands as a great consolation to me.

Second, as I was walking to the car to leave, Mr. [C] Middle Schooler somehow was not amongst his friends but was standing between me and the car. And he actually gave me a hug goodbye without being asked.


  1. Oh! I'm not a parent yet, but gosh this tugs at the heartstrings.
    Your boy sounds insightful and thoughtful for a middle schooler. Parenting for the win!

  2. This was the sweetest post! Your boy sure sounds like he has an awesome mother who will love him forever. I feel the same way about my children and they're only 4 and 2. I hate being apart from them, even though sometims they drive me crazy all day long. I wouldn't have it any other way. :)


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