My son left today for a month. 26 days to be exact.
It’s not the first time he’s been away from home. Every year since he was 9 he’s spent about a week away at camp. He spent 10 days this summer being a counselor at a camp he was invited to attend last year. He was invited back to be a counselor this summer. It’s a nice feather in his cap and definitely college resume worthy.
He left for those 10 days in June. It was hard but he’d been gone for 7 days straight before. It wasn’t much longer and I consoled myself with my lower grocery bill for those days. While he was gone he sent me a text or 23. As the end of his stay approached he sent me one and ended it with, “I love you Mom.” I immediately texted him back and told him I loved him too and appreciated him telling me. I was over the moon touched by his words via text message.
He was home for 10 days before he left again today. I let him get away with a lot of computer time knowing he was going to be gone for so long. He quickly did the chores I asked and never complained. That was new. He always did the chores I asked, not as quickly as I’d have liked, and often with the normal teenage angst. Eldest came home from those 10 days after being a counselor at National Youth Leadership Training slightly older and more worldly.
We went camping this weekend. We dry camped with the RV on a friend’s lake front property. Jet skis, tubing, fishing, and swimming filled the days with campfires and smores taking over the evenings. Eldest was a good sport about camping the last two nights before his next adventure – more so than I expected him to be. He engaged and had a blast with his friends and even entertained and helped his little sisters on the water.
Today dawned and I knew we only had a few more hours before he left. Dr. Evil and I decided Dr. Evil and Eldest would make the trip to Tomahawk while I kept the girls at the lake. We were only a bit south of camp and it was a straight shot north to drop him off. About 11:30 Eldest got off the jet ski and started to prep for his 12pm departure.
I admit it. I hovered. I hovered and asked what I could do to help. “Need anything to eat? Want me to fold that? Need a dry towel for your camp bag? Don’t forget your trunks are drying on the chair!” He tolerated and even seemed to appreciate it all.
I snuck a card into his pack. He opened the pack and saw it and asked what it was. I just smiled through the beginning of tears. He said, “I didn’t see anything. I’m sure there’s something I’ll find later.” I laughed and started gathering the last of his things.
I was tearing up. More than I expected. Way more than I expected. I kept my sunglasses on hoping to hide but a stray tear got me and Dr. Evil noticed. I told him I was sad even though I was so excited for the opportunities Eldest was going to have. Then Eldest noticed.
“Please stop crying Mom. You’re going to make me start crying.”
That. Did. Me. In. I was surprised he was affected as much as I was. I’m not sure when I forgot he’s still a kid. He is on his way to being a man but he’s just barely 15. And I’ll take every second of him still being a kid. We’ll be friends when he’s much older because right now my job is to be mom. But these rare glimpses into what our future relationship may be are amazing.
I pulled myself together, demanded two more hugs, and sent him on his merry way. I dried up my tears and went to play with the girls and enjoy the last hours on the lake.