I'm Not Ready

Author: Rayna Charles

Today is the day we drop of our eight-year-old daughter, Malia, at sleep away camp. For two weeks our only child, who has never been away from home for more than a night, will participate in the time-honored tradition of attending girl’s camp, a tradition that I am lucky enough to pass on to her.

My daughter first expressed an interest in attending camp about a year ago. Her friend and classmate, Hannah, attended last summer as the fourth generation of girls in her family. As a former camper myself I was excited about the prospect. My husband, who never camped a day in his life until he joined the Army at twenty-one, was not so thrilled.

It will be good for her I said, she will have fun I said, she will learn things we can’t teach her, I said. She’s an only-child, it will do her good to learn how to share space, split up chores, and resolve conflicts with other children she has to live with.

We also talked about how it would be beneficial for us. Since we live so far away from family and because my husband travels often for work, it will be an opportunity for us to reconnect as a couple. Maybe we will go to a movie that is not animated or have a dinner without arguing about bringing the iPad to the table to play Minecraft. Yes, we have simple dreams in our house.

It’s been a flurry of activity these past few weeks: labeling all seventeen pairs of socks, buying bottles of sunscreen and bug spray, and packing as much as possible into a newly purchased trunk. Everything is ready, every thing except for me.

I am not ready to go to bed at night without singing her a bedtime song or without my visit to her room thirty minutes after she has gone to sleep to make sure she is OK. I am not ready to come home from work and not hear about Malia’s day. I am not ready to let her deal with her conflicts without my guidance and reassurance. To be honest, I am not ready to let go of the control that comes with being her mother.

I am scared. Who will remind her to pay attention while swimming in the lake? What if someone accidentally kicks her in the head and knocks her out? What if she wanders by herself and gets lost in the woods? What if she has an undiagnosed allergy and she dies before receiving medical attention? Yes, I know, I am ranting.

The truth is I am not ready to let her go, but Malia is ready to go. She is independent, shy, quiet, empathetic, kind, and fierce in her beliefs. She will make friends, she will resolve her conflicts, she will feel sad and homesick, but she will be OK. She will wear sunscreen sometimes and hopefully take pity on her parents and write home half as much.

My daughter wants to go and she is ready to go, so now it’s time for me to let her go.

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