Monday, June 16, 2008

Leaps & Bounds

Only 1 month after Maya decided the big girl potty was the true mark of a 3-year-old, she's off to school.

Well, not school, really, it's just summer camp. Still, I found it more difficult to leave her in that crowded room of preschoolers at our local park than when I left her at four-months-old to head in to work. Instead of a calm, controlled home environment with one adult that I knew and trusted, I handed her over to a fleet of high school volunteers in a room crawling with kids, most of whom had been to camp before or were under the protection of an older sibling.

Elliot will be so lucky!

Maya was shy, but excited when I left. I introduced her to the one reliable adult in the room, Lisa, and then she ran off to play blocks with some bigger girls. She is probably less torn up than I am, since she had a playground full of kids, crafts, storytime, and a number game to play.

As I marched Elliot home from the park (my house is sooo quiet now that she's sleeping), I thought about all of the empty-nester moms I know. They keep shrugging off the big changes in their life, as their babies trot off across the globe on adventures that no amount of mothering can prepare them for.... and any amount of mothering is usually eschewed anyway.

Here I am, teary that my baby is a big 3-year-old now, off on her own adventure for the very first time, and I fully expect to be just as discombobulated when she runs off on new adventures when she's 18 and 20 and 29...

I do feel a little silly, making a big deal out of a 2 hour day camp, but why should I? Why should the mom of a college student? Kids are such an intimate and intense part of our lives; we are so biologically designed to guard and care for them. No one expects us to shut all of that down, simply because our kids gets their own life (even if it's just for two hours!)

It is absolutely natural to feel a bit lost, a bit haunted, complete with the phantom sounds of chalk on an easel, when she reaches new milestones and stretches a bit further away from me. Right? I know it's healthy, and tomorrow, I swear I will use my free hours on something beyond contemplating the nature of my freedom, but today I can't help but feel a bit like a fish out of water.

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