Camp Mommy-Get-A-Grip

Today I almost didn’t send my four-year-old twin daughters to their first day of camp.

I signed them up in a fleeting moment of bravery last week, thinking it would be good for H and S to have some organized activity and a new experience. Unlike their mother, I want them to be comfortable trying new things.

The minute I signed them up, I backpedaled.

“Should I cancel it?” I asked my husband in a panic. “They’re only four. They don’t HAVE to go. It’s not like it’s school.”

And as it happens each time we reach a brand-new phase with the girls, I’m overwhelmed. I obsess. Will they be supervised enough? Who are these people, anyway? What if someone is mean to them? What if they don’t make any friends? What if they miss me? What if one of them gets stung by a bee, or gets hurt on the playground? And, I confess, one of my more irrational worries: what if they catch some illness while they’re there? (Yup, I know: it can happen anywhere, and it’s an inevitable part of – well, life.)

I could just keep them home with me and I’ll feel so much better. Somehow, I have this illusion that if I’m with them, they’re safer and everything is under control.

But deep down, I won’t really feel better because I know that worse than anything else is the idea of passing this fear onto them. I can’t stand the thought of taking away my daughters’ innocent curiosity and enthusiasm. I know they’ll love playing with other kids their age, doing crafts, playing outside. The change of scenery.

When we got to camp this morning, H and S held hands on the way in, skipping across the parking lot. We passed a boy crying and clinging to his mom. With her arm around him, she was watching him expectantly, waiting for him to say he was ready to go. I held my breath as we rounded the corner to the girls’ assigned room. A bunch of kids were sitting at a table, coloring quietly. H and S stood there and looked up at me. I looked at them. I told a counselor their names, and handed her the paperwork and snack bags.

“Do I need to do anything else?” I asked.

“I think you’re all set,” she said.

“They should be okay, because they have each other,” I said.

And suddenly, I knew that I’d better hurry up and leave before I changed my mind. Again. Or worse, before I cried in front of everyone like I did on their first day of preschool.

I kissed the top of the girls’ heads and said, “Have fun!” in my most convincing this-is-totally-awesome voice. I put my sunglasses back on while I was still inside – and bolted.


10 thoughts on “Camp Mommy-Get-A-Grip

  1. It’s so hard to send them off to experience new things. I felt this exact same way this morning as I sent my 8-year old off – on a bus, with no familiar faces – for Girl Scout Camp. She will be gone 8a-5p every day this week. Like you said, it seemed like a great idea when I signed her up and today, well, at least I didn’t tear up until the bus pulled away. Good job for both of us!

    • Jen, thanks for your reply! I think one of the best things about motherhood is making connections with other moms – so we’re reminded that we’re never alone on this crazy ride! Good for you for being so brave this morning, and I hope it will turn out to be a great day (and week) for both of you.

  2. Lisa – Congratulations on a big step! Someone once told me that your biggest job as a mother begins when the umbilical cord is cut, because your biggest job is to let go of your children and let them become the independent, successful, happy people they are meant to be. I repeat that to myself on many days when I face big transitions as a mom. But learning to let go is so important. Because I learned this I was able to let go and let my oldest travel to China at 13 years of age for an amazing experience! Because I learned this my second born is excitedly chatting away about his two weeks at sleepaway camp. I will tell you, as a mother you are also doing something wonderful for you because as they get older there comes a point where you are no longer the center of their universe – still important – but they need to build a life around friends, school, etc. Suddenly they’re not looking for you to plan day trips unless they get to bring friends and you drop them off! As they transition you transition to new things for YOU! And your ability to do that is as important for your children as it is to you. You are their role model for independence. I am so happy you are writing again!

    • Thank you for sharing that, Anne. That’s so true (the advice you were given) and it sounds like it’s really served you (and your children) well. China – WOW! The sleep-away camp is a huge step, too. Congratulations to all of YOU!

      I’m doing my best to put my daughters’ best interests ahead of my hesitation and worry, in hopes that it will lead to healthy, happy and well-rounded lives for all of us. Remembering that they’re watching and learning is a constant reminder to stay focused on the right things.

      And – it feels good to be writing again 🙂

  3. Lisa, the blog is great! A mom writing about her experiences gives other moms a sense of normalcy. Knowing we aren’t the only ones freaking out about a new experience in our lives, makes you feel better. I think you handled the situation like a pro! I hope I am so calm and reassuring on Jacob’s first day of pre-school.

    • Thanks, Becky! It definitely helps knowing we’re not the only ones freaking out about new things – and everyone’s comments have made me feel much better!

      As for preschool, you’ll both do great. On the girls’ first day, I cried. They didn’t. I was lucky to have my good friend Jen with me to lead me out the door, or I’d have sat outside their classroom all day 😉 But it turned out to be a great year for all of us and guess what? I cried again on the last day because I didn’t want it to end!

  4. Whenever I have those moments I just think back to all the cool movies I loved when I was younger. Think of Stand by Me or The Sandlot. Kids used to just take off after breakfast and come back for dinner and everything was fine. It’s a scarier world today, but at the same time, we do (including myself) coddle our kids more than ever before. We like to talk about “the good old days,” but when you look at it, we grew up in the 80s when kidnapping and child molestation was so prevalent that we had to watch documentaries on “Stranger Danger” and “Good Touch and Bad Touch.” Sometimes we just have to put them in God’s hands and let go. Now if I could only learn that myself.

    • Great point! Of course, there are new and different things to worry about today, but I agree we romanticize that things were simpler and easier “back in the day!” The awareness we have is a good thing overall, but it can cause over-thinking and more worry, especially for those of us already inclined to do so 😉 I know, it sure is hard to let go and have faith that somehow, we’ll all get through just fine. But that’s why connecting with other parents is such a great comfort! Thanks for your reply.

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