I had a great time planning my wedding – what bit of the effort I performed, as Ralph and my mother seemed to do most of the work. I remember enjoying the planning, I enjoyed the event itself, and I suffered no post-wedding hangover of Is It Really Over? in any sense. In most ways I’m good at events – enjoying the here and now, moving on after they’re over.
Not so, apparently, when it comes to my eldest going off to her first week of camp.
I performed well in our preparations. I got up this morning and tidied up a few loose ends, scooped up laundry, made beds, and readied the family. I produced the list of necessary provisions for Sophie’s six-day-and-five-night adventure. We went shopping for camping supplies which ended up being affordable and also rather fun – my daughter is so open, so engaged when she’s doing something she wants to. Today: shorts, new socks, a toothbrush holder. A miniature shopping spree where she got to pick out her own flip flops and the brand of soap to take with her. We go home and pack; she carefully writes out her Letter of Introduction to the counselor and at some point when I wasn’t watching she amended the medical information I’d listed to indicate an allergy to fennel (which is not real, but she does insist it causes sneezing).
And then, tonight, I sit on the big comfy airmchair as my daughter reads on my lap, intently studying a huge book of beautifully-illustrated Hans Christian Andersen stories. She’s wearing a pair of panties, her hair is wet from the bath and smells of jasmine, her skin is warm and I think I don’t want her to go for so long. The longest I’ve ever been apart from her. The sorrow I’d always thought particularly bittersweet at the end of “The Steadfast Tin Soldier” seems all the more cramped and unfair. She’s completely excited and ready to go, and in that sense I’ve done my job as a Mommy. I’m nursing my own cocktail of loneliness tonight (and not, sadly, an actual cocktail).
Tomorrow we are taking another trip to the County Fair and then dropping her off and I’ll write her letters and carefully admit the sharp little pain in my heart at having her gone.