Monday, June 15, 2009


I have been looking forward to today for the past three months. All three of the kids are in camp this week, and I have a glorious 3.5 hours to myself every day, for five days in a row!

BigBro is doing a week of art and music camp with several friends. He's a camp-junkie. This is the fourth summer he's had opportunities to go to camp, and he's got 4 different camps this summer.

Princess and LilBro are in camp at our parish school. They have a preschool-enrichment camp for kids age 3-6. I know the director of the preschool camp; her daughter played soccer with Princess last fall. Princess went to art camp and Bible camp last summer, so this was just another fun new thing for her.

But, for LilBro, this was the first time he was going to be away from me in a school-type environment for such a long period of time. And he is younger than his brother and sister were when they started camp. After all, he won't be 3 1/2 until the end of this month... and in many ways, he is a young 3 1/2.

We've spent the past few weeks talking about camp, preparing LilBro for the experience. He's gone back and forth between nervous and excited. Yesterday morning, he told me that he was scared. Last night, I thought we might have some bedtime issues, but he was so worn out from our busy weekend that he conked out as soon as his head hit the pillow. This morning, I woke him, whispering that it was time for camp, and he bounded out of bed and into his clothes. He could not wait to leave the house.

We got over to the school and the director was standing at the door. When she saw Princess and LilBro, she gave them each a big hug and told them how happy she was they were there. Both of my kids ran off to the classroom, not even looking back to wave good-bye to me. The Director told me not to worry, that they would have a great time... and I burst into tears.

I was completely taken aback by this reaction. But then, I've never had that "first day of kindergarten" that most of my friends have had: the big "leaving the nest for the first time" moment.

I am totally grateful that I get to stay home with my kids, to homeschool them and watch them grow and learn. I am so very happy that I am the person teaching them to read, to add, to figure their way in the world.

And I am grateful for this week... for the chance to take a break, to step back and give them a different experience, to give myself a different look at our life.

So, while it was hard to leave them, especially without a hug and one last tussle of their hair, I am very happy that they can leave me so easily. As hard as it can be to think about, the whole point of this parenting thing is to make myself obsolete ... eventually, of course. If things work out as we pray they will, in about a decade and a half, our three small children will have been replaced with three responsible, self-sufficient, caring, and independent young adults.

Parenting well is a series of good-byes... good-bye to the helpless infant, good-bye to the wobbly toddler, good-bye to diapers, good-bye to the baby teeth, and so on. This morning was just one more little good-bye in my mothering journey, my path to becoming mom-solete.

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