I have never been an overly clingy mom. I think we left our firstborn with my parents overnight for the first time when he was about a month old. We don't go out very often, but we aren't afraid to take a weekend to get away (much like last weekend). I always have my mouth hanging open in shock when I hear a mom say, "We have never left our six year old with anyone overnight." Not in a judgmental sort of way, just in a surprised sort of way because we aren't like that.
And it works both ways. We have never discouraged the kids from leaving us to do things, like one riding with my parents to a wedding a day ahead of me or the big kids hanging out with grandparents in Mississippi for a few days. In fact, that is where one child is headed next week. She is BEYOND excited about it.
So when our oldest was invited to a church camp this week by his friend L., I didn't blink an eye. I knew it was something he would enjoy doing. I also know that as he gets older, those times of independence away from Mom and Dad's watchful eyes will be good for him and for me. Besides, it is only four days, three nights. No big deal, right?
Sounds good anyway.
When I dropped my camper off, there was no fanfare. In fact, I just said, "Be good, see ya later" and I walked out. In fact, it was the youngest who said, "I miss him" (in the parking lot). I was too busy thinking about other things, mentally making sure we had packed
Except today I realize. This is different. He is gone. I really have no way to contact him (though if I were desperate enough, I could figure something out). And I miss him. Terribly.
This child was designed to be in our family. He was meant to be our firstborn, a big brother. He brings so much to our family...humor, sensibility, knowledge beyond his years. And when he is gone, our family has a hole in it.
So does my heart.
PS I am thankful that a friend of mine who is helping the nurse there wrote on my "wall" on FB that my camper is doing fine. I needed to hear those words.