We dropped Lottie off today for her first sleepover camp. She is attending a volleyball camp at Valparaiso University, so she is close to home. In the days leading up to this momentous event, people have been asking me how I'm handling it and if I'll cry and if I'm feeling sad. Maybe I'm just an emotionless automaton, but I'm fine with her being gone.
Look, this isn't the movie version of life. Of course I'm going to miss my girl while she is gone because she is a pretty amazing kid. I mean, she drives me bananas sometimes, but overall, I love being around her because she is a fun person to be around, my kid or not. But I'm not going to mope around the house and gaze wistfully into her bedroom while I lean on the door frame. Mama's got stuff to do! I'll wonder what she's doing and how she's doing, but I'm not going to worry about her.
I have spent ten years getting her ready for this. Well, I guess I wasn't exactly thinking about volleyball camp, but I have been doing what we all do as parents: preparing my kids to go out on their own. Granted, going to an overnight volleyball camp isn't getting an apartment and starting a job, but it's her first foray out into the world without me. If anyone was born to go out into the world and devour it, it's Lottie. The bigger the party, the bigger the adventure, the bigger the hoopla, the happier she is.
My job as a parent is to get my kids ready to be responsible citizens who will somehow contribute to society and the world at large. They won't be able to do that if I keep the umbilical cord wrapped around them so tightly that they can't move. If I don't let go, they're not going to go anywhere but my basement, and I don't really want them living down there when they're forty. (Who am I kidding? Dallas might be there anyway because he is much more of a homebody than his sister is. But, ideally, I would like for him to at least live in a shed in the backyard.)
This is only the beginning. At the end of the month, she'll go to an overnight camp further away from home for an entire week. So instead of crying, I'm going to rejoice in the knowledge that Lottie is most likely having the time of her life, making new friends, and maybe even learning how to play volleyball. When I pick her up later this week, I think I'll find someone who is ready to have more new experiences and spread her wings a little wider. I'm going to be ready to give her lots of hugs and encourage her dreams, even when her dreams lead her away from home.