This week we entered yet another first as a family: Summer Camps. Never in the past have I had the emotional, physical or financial capacity to enroll the kids in camps. And though I felt tinges of “I should be giving my kids this opportunity….all the other kids are doing it..blah blah blah,” I have been relatively able to wait patiently through the years until the time felt right. This summer it just so happened that 3 camps all aligned on the same week at an affordable price, so I signed’em up! Silas to Lego Engineering Camp with his grandparents an hour away, Sam to Boot Camp For Kids, Judah & Caramia to VBS, and Micah to hang with me as I try to keep him entertained in the absence of his 4 chief entertainers. Come to find out, I’m just not as fun and he’s just not as entertained. There’s so much I could share in this post about what I’m learning in this week. How I wasn’t prepared for so much chauffeuring…. …how I’m enjoying little bits of time with various combinations of my kids and how the dynamic changes in the absence of one or two siblings and note to self remember to give them more time apart regularly puh-lease… …how that 3 hour window with only the toddler really turns into 2 by the time all the driving is done and that the visions of quiet “me time” has turned into little more than drinking kombucha in the van as he cries in the background……And how it’s all still worth every mile driven and sign-in sheet initialed and snack packed because they just are growing up so fast and I’m beginning to understand more and more what my dad meant when he’d say “Enjoy the ride, Tom Tom. It goes so fast.”
Tonight I found myself in a quiet house. Numbers 2-5 fell asleep hard and fast (definitely one of the perks of summer camp), my husband was working late, and I was left alone with my thoughts. Quiet nights can feel threatening these days as I’m grieving the recent death of my dad. I would’ve called him on a night like tonight to catch up on our day, share a laugh, talk about the kids, the news, the weather. As I do often, I sat quietly and cried for a few moments. I thought about the last phone call I received from him. He left a voice message that simply said, “Miss you. Love you. Wish we lived closer. Bye.” I thought about my oldest son, 9 years old, away from home for the week. I thought about how much he’s loving his independence and time away from the siblings, and how he often counts down the years until he’s an adult. I thought about how I’m half-way through parenting him. I thought about calling him to say “Miss you. Love you. Wish we were closer,” but wasn’t sure if that would be suffocating to his newfound freedom.
And then I received a message from my son, sent on his grandmother’s phone. Another first- a text message!
So Silas and I face timed (is that even a word?) and he told me all about camp and the friends he’s making and how much fun he’s having. He wanted to know how his siblings are doing (those exact words) and how I was doing. And I tried to play it cool but I’m pretty sure I gave myself away.
And after we had hung up and he had sent an I love u, mom, I found myself crying again. But for a different reason. I thought about how fast time passes and how seasons come and go. How the Lord gives and the Lord takes away and how I so often try to hoard it all. Cling to it all.
I’d like to keep my hands open more willingly and regularly. I’d like to allow the gifts of time and relationships to pass through them with gratitude and with an understanding that they are not forever. My dad wasn’t meant to be with me on earth forever. My children aren’t meant to be with me forever (even though Sam just today asked if he and I could live together- alone- when he grows up), and I’m not meant to mother them forever. But the person I am becoming in the process; their mark on my life- I have a feeling that doesn’t fade.
Parenting and growing up alongside my kids is hard. But my children flood the journey with joy and laughter and innocence along the way. And God covers it all with unfathomable gifts. Like texts and face time and affordable summer camp and the memories of my father and sunshine and a toddler running carefree in a diaper and a mask and the ability to communicate all of this and for- in the words of my daughter as she drifted off to sleep tonight- “the promise of a new day and all we can learn.”
May we have all the courage we need to let go and enjoy the ride as we discover who we are. Kids do such a remarkable job modeling that for us grownups.