Today is our son’s 12th birthday – and for the third year in a row, we won’t be seeing him on our special day. (Because today is the day he, and his parents, were born).
Even though I know he will have an amazing day at camp, I’ll admit today is the day I miss my children the most and realize again, that I may never see our son on his birthday again.
(Let’s face it, it’s hard to compete with hundreds of children wishing you happy birthday, particularly in the summer when I can’t get more than two to RSVP to his party next weekend).
Each year I hear the same things from peers to complete strangers . . . “I don’t think I could send my kids” followed by either “I’d miss them too much” or “I don’t think they’d go.”
It’s easy to feel a bit . . . judged. And while I’m sure sending our children away for a month every summer can come across as hardhearted or selfish, I have resisted the urge to explain to these same strangers that we do not give up 1/12th of each year without good reason.
Resisted, until now. Because that’s what I have a blog for (right?).
Because they need a break
It’s been another long year, and the kids need a break – from friends, social pressures, summer reading & math packets, electronics, television, and us. Yes, my dear friends, the kids need a break from their parents – from the nagging, the chores, the to-do lists, and being dragged on another errand.
Because they need to break out
Of their routine – to meet new people, to hear new stories, and to try new things. They need to get muddy, wet, dirty, silly, crazy, and loud. They need to capture the flag, kill the counselor and compete in color wars. They need to cheer at the top of their lungs and sing quietly with their new friends.
Because we need to catch up
Parenting takes a lot of time, which means a lot of things just don’t get done. But the few extra hours in my day, plus a whole weekend without them, has allowed my husband and I to catch up on sleep, sex (!), reading, exercising, organizing, and finally figuring out how to change the settings on our home voicemail.
I’m particularly proud of getting this year’s school year photo album done and ordered!
Because they need to practice being independent & responsible
While at camp they have to take care of themselves – I’m sure they will brush teeth, wear sunscreen & bug spray, and remember to change their underwear, but I can’t make sure of it. They can make their own choices (what to wear, what to do, what to eat) as well as fulfill the responsibilities of being part of a group – turns out there are chores at summer camp! This “safe independence” will help them learn that they can be away from us.
Because we need to prepare
Let’s face it – the last twelve years have sped by. If we do our job, in just six more our son will be spreading his wings and flying out of our nest, followed a few years later by our daughter. When they leave there is no question that our souls will soar and our hearts will break – but I believe these weeks will help prepare us for what will come next.