This past weekend my oldest daughter went to Girl Guides’ Camp.
We reviewed the camp itinerary.
We practiced and learned how to make a bed roll.
We labeled all her belongings.
We worked together to pack her duffel bag.
I did the “mom thing” and went through the list of the things she had to remember:
- Always wear your Epi-Pen belt… only take it off at bed time.
- Don’t take off your allergy bracelet.
- Only accept food from the camp leaders.
- Make sure you put your glasses in your eyeglass case.
- Don’t wait until the very last-minute to go pee.
- Be a good listener.
- Remember your manners.
- Listen to the adults.
- Don’t wander away from camp.
- Do what’s right… not just what others are doing.
I think it got to be a little much because my daughter started saluting me and saying, “Aye, aye, Captain.”
As we dropped her off I hugged her, I told her I loved her, and shared my most important “rule”… to have fun.
She smiled and said, “This is going to be the best camp trip ever.”
Then she snickered and said, “It’s the only camp trip I’ve ever been on but it will be the best.”
She looked so little carrying her duffel bag and her bed roll.
I hugged her again.
As we drove away something surprising happened.
I started crying.
I don’t know why it surprised me. I cry over everything but for some reason it surprised me. Maybe it was because we were so busy preparing for the trip that I never contemplated the emotions involved with saying good-bye and letting my child take that first major step of independence.
I wept and all I could see was her little face… so happy, so eager, and so grown up.
Watching your children grow is a simultaneously beautiful and painful process. Each change is a victory for them yet a mountain for us to climb as we realize our babies are growing up. Fortunately these changes start small… a coo, then a smile, a word, a crawl, and a step. Then they have their first birthday party, their first class, their first sleepover, and maybe a camping trip. One day there will be a first date, a first dance, and perhaps college, marriage, and babies of their own.
Each little step becomes bigger and with each step I can only pray that I will be brave enough to encourage and support my girls as they evolve into the independent, competent, and capable individuals I’ve always known them to be.