CAMP! (Mother-Daughter 2021)

E.V. and Cricket have been at camp for two weeks. YES, TWO WEEKS.

When I mention that I sent my seven- and eight-year-olds to sleep away camp for that long, moms inevitably choose of two replies: A hearty high-five or a deep look of concern. There is no in-between, apparently, haha!

(I’ve written about this at length in the past, but going to Camp Merri-Mac was perhaps the best decision of my childhood, the best gift my parents ever gave me. My only regret was and is that I didn’t start younger, and so Ryan and I always knew that we’d save our girls from that regret.)

For the first week, I buried myself in work. I promised myself I would not look at the camp’s daily pictures. I would not stalk the camp Instagram. I would write up-beat letters to the girls every day, but expect nothing in the return mail. And it worked fabulously. 

(I did get three letters in the mail, which was a great surprise!

Two from E.V.:

And one from Cricket:

These are keepers for sure!)

And then, halfway through — on E.V.’s birthday — I let myself start stalking pictures online, eager to see what the girls had been up to while we’d been sans kids. (Unsurprisingly, they were having the time of their life. I even spotted a thumbs up from Cricket, our secret code for her to communicate to me that she was happy.)

If I’ve learned anything over the past two weeks it’s this: When people say “you’re going to miss this,” they know what they’re talking about. Yes, I thoroughly enjoyed getting several uninterrupted, full nights of sleep IN A ROW. Yes, I loved going to work and not constantly worrying about what’s going on at home while at work. Yes, it felt amazing to have so much of the mental load of motherhood lifted for a couple weeks. Yes, I had some margin for home projects and dinners out and friends. Yes, I sat in my clean house like a kid in a candy store. (YES and AMEN to that one!)

And yet…

The house was so quiet it felt…empty. The whole time everything felt just a bit “off.” I missed my girls terribly. Moments hit me like childhood homesickness, where I felt desperate to be with them yet unable to fix it. I wondered what they were doing, how they were feeling. Did they miss me? Did I want them to miss me?

In the end, I looked at Ryan and concluded, “I don’t want to be an empty nester.” (Honestly, my next sentence was, “We are going to have to travel…A LOT.”) As exhausting as these days are, as cluttered as the house is, as crazy as my kids are, I don’t look forward to the phase where things are simpler, where the girls are grown and the work of parenting is done. I can see this season more clearly now for what it truly is: messy and magical, worthwhile and wonderful, full and fulfilling. And I don’t want to wish these years away.

The truth of the matter is, two weeks of a clean house and open schedule was torture compared to the madness of motherhood. I’ll take laundry (the literal worst) and dishes (a close second) and hectic schedules and breaking up sister fights (“She hugged me too hard!”) and kids sneaking into our bed any day. I might lose sight in the moment, but these two weeks have taught me that these trees make up a breathtaking forest, and I plan on seeing it in all its splendor.

Now it’s time for me to count down the hours, minutes, seconds until we’re all back together! While I do, here are this year’s pictures from Mother-Daughter Weekend at Merri-Mac, since I never got around to posting them last month, whoops!

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