941854_10200496922038282_2079629483_n“5 days, Mom!”  For just a moment, I thought maybe I’d been in a coma, missed summer and woke up right before Christmas… my kid sounded that excited.

“Till what?’ I asked. Starting to doubt  my coma till Christmas theory. I could see a neatly folded pile of laundry on the floor. If I were in a coma for months, I highly doubt any laundry would get done…let alone neatly folded.

“Camp, Mom.” My youngest replied. With just enough of an attitude to raise my mommy-respect radar but not enough to launch a disciplinary SCUD missile. (Sorry, ’80’s Cold war moment there.. I’m better now, I think.) Had it been followed by even a hint of  “Duh.” I’d have gone nuclear. (Oops. Wasn’t quite done with cold-war references.)

That was 5 days ago. This weekend was a flurry of baking, funeral help for some friends and camp preparations. Camp preparations involved a lot of putting name and initials onto personal belongings. Let’s just say, I could not be more thankful for Mabel’s Labels.  (Nor could my kid- or he wouldn’t be able to distinguish his form other campers boxers… always bad.) Every morning he ticked off another day towards camp.

That is until this morning, when he suddenly didn’t look so excited. He looked mostly: scared.

“What if I can’t do it, mom?” Came the voice from a face tucked so far into his hoodie he could have been mistaken for a Jedi Knight or a ninja.  (I think boys use hoodies as cloaking devices when they talk about feelings. It’s as if they can say how they feel as long as you can’t see them. Whatever.) “Noah, You can do this. I know you can. You have what you need, and you’ll be with people we trust, who take care of you everyday. If you need us, we’ll be here.”  

“What about my inhaler?”  He asked.

“Packed and labeled.” I replied.

“My allergy meds?”  (He was just double checking, I’m sure.)

“All set just, like the note said”  

Then he stood up, dragged his suitcase and bedroll-in-a-garbage-bag because I couldn’t find a better “waterproof” container for it last night,  at 10:00 pm to the front door.  (yes, 10:00 pm last night  is when I finally finished packing him up. I may have procrastinated in the passing hope that he’d change his mind, or that the camp would be closed due to a water main break… or something equally prohibitive but not earth shattering like that….)

No such luck.

He looked so small.

And so big.

Kids are like that.

We prayed together that he’d have fun and be safe.

The drive to the school was quiet- even for 6:15 am. (They do that on purpose- have the kids arrive exhausted then never let them catch up… it’s the only way for adults to keep up with a hundred 5th graders. I’m sure I’d do the same.) But he was resolute.

Quietly resolute. (Or scared, stiff, I’m not sure.)

He was also probably worried about: the weather, public showers, asthma, what he’d eat all week (the kid is: picky.) homesickness and all the other things kids worry about when away from home but don’t always tell you until they get home. Or maybe, that was me.

Either way. He hugged his Dad then somewhat reluctantly hugged me (we’re at that age.) and climbed up the bus steps without looking back.

By 6:30 am he was on the chartered bus about to drive him across the state to his first sleep away camp.

He DID wave out the window.

Then I felt the tears sting my eyes. Which meant: it’s time to go.

On the drive home, questions roared like thunder as my husband drove home in the rain: “Can he do this? Is he ready? What if he gets sick? Hurt? What if kids are mean? What if ….”  (Of course. It can’t be sunny and beautiful.. It’s GOT to be raining and threatening to storm when he goes away for the first time… you know? The kid who wears noise canceling headphones every time it rains…. and isn’t allowed to bring any electronics to camp? Yup. Of course .)

By the time I got home- I’d thought my self into a frenzy. (Moms are emotional sharks…. let a little blood of fear get in the water and we can go nuts. Unless that’ just me.)

So- I did what I always do when I’m being crazy: I clean and pray. (OK- if I always cleaned when I’m crazy- my house would be a lot cleaner… Anyway- in moments of parental angst- I clean. And pray. Not necessarily in that order.)

As I vacuumed up bits he’d left behind… Doritos on my chair- fruity pebbles under the kitchen table- I realized…..The truth is….There are a lot of “what if’s” in mothering. (And there is a lot of dirt that clings to boys.)

Some of them even happen. Most of them- don’t.

I know, because I’ve done this before. Not in another life… but in another Mommy- life. With my older two sons. Who managed to survive all the things I (and they) have both worried about and experienced. (At least so far.)

Like: getting hurt. Mean kids. Asthma, public showers, thunder storms and a host of childhood fears.

Here is what I’ve learned….

God is- even here.When it hurts. WHen it’s more fun than you thought. On the charter bus. At the camp. In the class. In comfort when mean kids happen. (And when your kid is mean.) He is in the kindness of teachers. In the compassion of others. In the fears faced. In the fears felt.

In the leaving-

and in the coming home.

Even Here.

So- am I the only mom struggling with fear and stress and a stressed out kid over going to camp?

Are “What if’s” the thunder in your emotional storm, today?

Let’s invite God into them. We may find he’s already there.

Dear Lord- I love my kid. I trust you with his present and with his future. I trust you to get us through the “what if’s” that happen- and am thankful for the ones that don’t. Help me not get tied up in worry. Lord- I know you love him even more than I do- and I ask you to be there with him while I can’t. As I know you always are. I also know in my mommy-heart that these are the days that prepare us both for the emptying of our nest…. help me to see them as days to watch my children learn to fly. I love you lord. Amen.

Praying with all the moms out there preparing for camp– I mean preparing their kids for camp…. You’re not alone. Even here. Nor are our kids;)