I’ve always enjoyed packing for trips. Each piece that goes into the bag is bringing me closer to the adventure I’m about to embark on. I pick an outfit and imagine myself wearing it wherever it is I’m going. Packing brings with it possibility, promise, the start of a new journey.
But this week, I’m packing my kids for sleepaway camp. And suddenly, it’s not so much fun.
I know that my children will love camp as much as I did when I was their age. They are going to make lifelong friends, enjoy the mountains, and a lake, and the camaraderie that’s practically exclusive to being at camp. They’ll make macrame bracelets, and pottery, and learn to waterski. They’ll perform in talent shows, and eat awful food. They’ll love it.
And as for me, well, you’d think I’d be looking forward to having some time alone with my husband. To enjoying evenings out without worrying about a babysitter. To getting to read the paper on the actual day it comes out. (Most of my news comes to me in the back seat of a cab!) To not having to say “brush your teeth, have you had a shower lately” or “how did a cream cheese sandwich end up under your bed?”
But all I’m doing is bursting into tears every five minutes.
I guess I’m selfish. I don’t want them to leave me. My husband keeps on telling me that they’ll be fine. I know they‘ll be fine. They’ll be great. I’m the one I’m worried about. Since I have twins, they’re both leaving me at once. And so, being me again, I start to think about when they’ll leave me emotionally – when they both start to care way more about their friends then they do about me – at the same time. I think about when they’ll leave me intellectually, when they’ll both start to think they know everything and their father and I know nothing — at the same time. When they’ll leave me physically to go to college — at the same time.
Life is all about the journey. And as parents, we want our kids to have an exciting, wonderful trip through life. We pack their “suitcases” with honesty, and humor, and knowledge. With compassion, and energy, and laughter. And then they pick up those suitcases, and move on with them. Continuing their journey without us.
Which is exactly what we hoped for. And what we wished would never have to happen.