by Lindsay Gallagher on 07/17/2011
“She’s gonna have a party every night!” Tess told whoever asked me what I was going to do when she and Ronan went to sleep-away camp. I was too exhausted the first couple of nights to even consider the house party Tess had in mind. The packing process: names on every sock, lists of what to bring, last minute scramble to get sleeping bags and hiking boots – so completely stressed me out that I didn’t have a second to consider how I might feel with my kids several hundred miles away. Just finding stationary was a task. “Stationary?” the sales person at Target said when when asked. “What’s that?” Meanwhile, my kids were home, rifling through their trunks, making gargantuan messes, fighting with other. “We have two more days – please can’t it be nice?” I begged. “What will you do?” another mother asked. Because I am with them ALL the time – that is what I do. “I haven’t thought about it. I’m just focused on getting them on that plane.” Well, I got them on that plane. I didn’t think I would cry, but there was a moment when the kids were meeting the counselors, asking when they would board, that I was struck with a sudden flood of emotion, like a wave of nausea or a fever. “Oh my God,” I said to my friend whose kids were also embarking on the trip. “I didn’t expect this.” I wiped away tears, caught my breath, and braced myself for what might come next. But Ronan and Tess were so excited, that the moment passed. The dread was replaced by an extreme feeling of pride: the kids weren’t clinging to me; they practically ran to the security check. I have only seen the camp in pics and on video, so for the first 48 hours I couldn’t even visualize what their days might be like. I sent letters before they even left, I sent care packages, but I couldn’t imagine them reading my words. I stopped myself from dwelling on things like bedtime or getting teased – I put it all out of my head. Now there are pictures posted on the camp website and as far as I can tell, they are having the time of their lives. Just seeing what they picked out to wear for the kooky dance is exciting to me. Because I had nothing to do with it. (Aside from packing it in the trunk!) That is one of the biggest reasons I sent them, because we do spend SO much time together, they never make decisions completely on their own. Basically, they needed to get away from me. It wasn’t until last night that I let myself go into their empty (blissfully tidy) rooms. I’ve had the doors shut so the new puppy (another blog!) doesn’t go in there and pee on their stuff. But last night, I stood over their empty beds. And here’s what I thought: They’re so far away! I sure would like to see them, to check on them when they’re asleep, to look at their little faces, even if they’re bickering or rolling their eyes. Then I did the stupidest thing – I imagined myself hugging them in those outrageous outfits, holding them and kissing them goodnight. “Oh my God,” I said out loud before getting the fuck out their rooms. I have 7 days to go – I can’t lose it now! As for the party at my house? It’s been a closet-cleaning, chair-repairing, bill-paying, puppy-training fandango. Yes, not needing a sitter has allowed me to live it up a bit. I’ve gone out on the town, had an extra drink (or two), watched David Letterman – on a weeknight! (fell asleep during the monologue.) Which is all good because it keeps me out of their vacant rooms.