My son left for sleep away camp last weekend. It’s his first time away for 2 weeks. He’s been away for sleepovers, two nights to Astro Camp but not two weeks. He showed interest earlier this year, or maybe it was last summer, I’m not sure, but when he asked if he could go, I was fairly confident that he was ready. He’s eleven and, as he’d tell you, almost all of his fellow 5th graders have been away for sleepover camp.
We found a camp from a friend so it came highly recommended. We signed him up in February and then waited. As we were approaching the departure date, we started having conversations about nervousness, homesickness and just being in a new place. He showed healthy signs of nerves and excitement. We pulled everything on his packing list together and packed together so he’d know what he has. I consulted my “village” to see if there was anything special I should be doing (I never went away to camp). I got some very good advice and followed many of the suggestions.
I also asked him if there was anything I could do to help him feel more comfortable. He said he’d like news from home every day so I am writing him every day.
The night before we were to take him to the bus, I lay in bed and tried to do my “before bed mindfulness” and had such a hard time! I found it very hard to stay in the moment and not think about my little boy growing up, going away, being ok, having everything he needs to be comfortable, etc. Phew. It was a little rough but I continued. I countered all my thoughts with my usual anchor (back to breath) and did so over and over. I finally fell asleep. I woke up tired from not enough sleep but excited for him.
On our way to the bus I realized I forgot to pack him a water bottle so we stopped at the store and got him one for the road. I also realized that there is something that is very good for all of us. It’s good to be unprepared. That way we have a chance of figuring out how to fix the problem and there in lies growth. So, maybe I forgot a few things but I have great confidence in my son that he will work it out. He’s good like that.
The first morning without him here was a little weird. My husband and I got up early because he had to go to work. We went downstairs and sat outside and had a few Mindful moments together. What an incredible way to start the day. Doing it with someone. I usually practice in the afternoon and by myself. This was so nice.
All week, my mindfulness practice has been an incredible challenge. Wow. It’s true, when things are good, things are easy and when we have struggles, we struggle. I keep trying to practice. Every day. It has not been great but I keep trying. And in the trying comes the growth. That’s what I think.
I leave for a retreat on Sunday to kick off my yearlong mindfulness certification program. I am beyond excited! It’s for a week. There are no screens of any kind and the first 2½ days are silent. Can you imagine? Not having to make small talk, just soaking everything in, really working on my practice and getting help with it as well. My hopes are simple- that I can be present for it, that I can learn from it and that I can grow from it. I want to be open to all the experiences and absorb all I can. I guess I’m going to camp too! My son and I will have a lot to catch up on when we reunite next weekend!
Life is good. The missing, the heartache, the love that I feel reminds me that I have a good life. And by that I mean I have people in my life with whom I am incredibly connected. Lucky me.