I’m sitting in my backyard – a beautiful, sunny, summer day. I am silly-excited for Ethan to get home. I am so beside myself waiting that I am actually amused at myself. I can’t wait to hear about his week away at camp.
YMCA Big Cove. A seaside old school camp – with rustic cabins, campfires, swimming, and a night spent out on the harbour somewhere ‘roughing it’. No phones, no electronics. No contact.
It’s his second year going – and this one certainly flew by. How has it been a week already?!
I really had no worries about him – although I sporadically ‘forgot’ he was away, and would panic that I hadn’t made arrangements for his soccer games, or dinner plans to meet his voracious appetite. In reality, the week was a little easier: less running around, less food to prepare.
But a wonderful part of our life was lacking. (Added bonus: Audra readily admits that she misses Ethan, while simultaneously loving that she has had all of our attention to herself this week.) Even so, I would be surprised if their greeting was nonchalant. (I’m looking forward to that moment, too).
Earlier this week, I had a vividly surreal moment when I walked past his bedroom door – his bed stripped of sheets – and I felt like I flashed forward in time. It literally stopped me in my tracks – the image of his empty bed – and the reality that one day, relatively soon, his empty bedroom would be for good.
As of next week, our boy will be 14.
Our boy. As if he belongs to us…
I should know better. And I do, but sometimes I still like to cling to the idea of our children belonging to us.
However, being the realist that I am, I know these experiences are safe and fun ways our kids get to test out their wings, enjoy time away from our influence, and deepen their own understanding of who they are as a human being apart from our family unit. I am excited for him, knowing that a week away is a big freedom for a kid his age. And I have great trust in the person he is in the process of growing into.
So, yes, I am giddy to see him (I’ll hold it in – slightly – when he gets dropped off by his friends). I know that he will be happy to be home, and happy to have been missed (and likely also amused by my enthusiasm).
But I am mostly thrilled to know that this experience is one that he is going to remember for the rest of his life. Even if every part of the week isn’t perfect – I do know that his memories will be happy ones. And on a deeper level, further proof that he can stand on his own two feet.
Yet again, the duality of life is showing up. I can see myself hugging him, loving him with every part of my being, so, so happy that he is home – while also thinking to myself:
Fly baby, fly!