Sunday, July 3, 2011

operation: FLY

Well...today was the day.

The day we drove my sweet Joelle an hour away from home to drop her off at camp for four nights! You know, to let her fly and all...

It has been a rough week for me as I have been dealing with my emotions, and over the weekend now it has been even rougher. I found myself tearing up anytime I thought about her going - which was quite often! But we prepared her well for it, and she was super excited (and quite nervous all at the same time, which is understandable).

Yesterday afternoon I was working on little notes to pack along for her - one for every morning and every night (and the night-time ones also include a bedtime prayer). Joelle walked in the room as I was putting the finishing touches on them and asked me what I was doing. When I told her, you should've seen the look on her face. She was thrilled with the idea, and with a huge grin and completely lit-up eyes she said: "Notes for ME for camp? Mom - that's AWESOME!"

(And this afternoon I caught her thumbing through them again and she looked up at me and quietly said "Thanks Mom"...and I know her anxiety was already making her grateful for the safety net that those little letters were to her.)

I also sent her with a mini travel-sized version of these for her week away from home:

Prepared or not though, I wasn't the only one who teared up today. This afternoon while I was in her room helping her pack up all of the last-minute items into her duffel bag, she suddenly got this strange look on her face. When I asked her what was wrong, she put her head into my lap and started to cry a little bit. After some reassurance from dear ol' Mom - who was doing EVERYTHING in her power not to break down right alongside of her - she snapped out of it just as quickly as it came on and the smiles were back on her face.

Here is my sweet lil' gem all packed up and ready to embark on her journey. Her oldest stuffed animal in hand and a nervous little smile, and we were ready to make this thing happen!

The drive up was tough. Joelle was very quiet and so was I. I kept going back and forth with wanting the drive to last forever so I wouldn't have to let her go, and wanting to get there sooner so that I could get the painful good-bye over with faster!

It did my Mama heart good to be able to get her settled into her cabin before driving away. I helped her choose her bunk and set up her bed and got to meet her 2 cabin leaders (who I felt very good about upon first impression, which was another relief!). I could tell she was still a bit unsure about everything, but she was being very brave.

I think Malia's light-heartedness helped soothe the atmosphere a bit (you just can't help but smile at this crazy little girl's antics!), but I can still see Joelle's tentativeness in this picture with her sister.

Thankfully we arrived at the camp at the same time as Joelle's friend - the one who put this crazy idea into her head invited her in the first place, so even though we got through the registration lines quicker than she did, it was only a matter of minutes before she joined Joelle in their cabin and then I instantly saw Joelle relax.

I gave Joelle one final squeeze (which was really 5 separate squeezes - one for each day she would be away, plus one more for good measure!) and just like that Daddy, Malia and I walked out of her cabin.

This is what she looked like as we parted ways. She looks happy and even somewhat relaxed. She didn't even get out of her bed to hug me at the door; she just stayed where she was and smiled.

Her time for tears might still come yet. Perhaps tonight, being her first night ('lights out' time is right at this time that I am posting this)...or perhaps not until Wednesday night as homesickness really starts to set in. And maybe she'll surprised me by not crying at all.

But as for me...I barely made it out of her cabin before the tears started coming. And they didn't really stop the whole way home...

2 comments:

The Brandt Family said...

Andrea, I teared up just reading this! You're a good mama to let her fly :)

Kendra said...

Oh, my goodness, I teared up a little, too! Good for you for letting her go, and putting up a brave front! Anika was a camper for the first time last summer, and it was hard for me too, but we were right here at camp the whole time, too! She just felt so independent! But it seems like it gets easier, so by next summer, you should be a pro!