These kids just keep going and coming back and leaving again. At this rate my proverbial apron strings are going to be all in tatters with all the stretching and untying and retying. This summer feels like a huge turning point in our family with the kids trying their beautiful new wings (new metaphor alert!) and us, their parents, waving goodbye and smiling and jumping up and down and blinking back tears.
Or I might be a little bit lonely and melancholy today.
I put Maddy on the train early this morning so she could trek up to Maine to join her friend and friend's family at their lake house for the weekend. Lauren blips in and out between work and socializing, already acclimating herself to reduced family contact. Sam is at yonder camp and must be having a blast because he hasn't written us even once, although I did email the director (helicopter mom hover powers activate!) and he assured me Sam is doing great.
Yonder camp is pretty wonderful, though. He's at Birch Creek Service Ranch in Utah, a program for good kids to learn more about service and community and have lots of outdoor fun. It's based on the philosophy of one of my heroes, Lowell Bennion, and his creed:
Learn to like what doesn't cost much
Learn to like reading, conversation, music.
Learn to like plain food, plain service, plain cooking.
Learn to like fields, trees, brooks, hiking, rowing, climbing hills.
Learn to like people, even though some of them may be different . . . different from you.
Learn to like to work and enjoy the satisfaction doing your job as well as it can be done.
Learn to like the song of birds, the companionship of dogs.
Learn to like gardening, puttering around the house,
and fixing things.
Learn to like the sunrise and sunset, the beating of rain on the roof and windows, and the gentle fall of snow on a winter day.
Learn to keep your wants simple and refuse to be controlled by the likes and dislikes of others.
(Of course, you don't have to go to a 3-week camp to learn these things. But keep in mind he has no brothers. He's the only 12-13 year old boy at church. He needs some intensive boy time.) The boys spend the first half of every day doing service in the surrounding community of ranches and farms, the afternoons doing camp fun, and the evenings in concerts and discussions and group activities, with some backpacking trips thrown in along the way. Ever since our friend's son went a few years ago and raved about it we've kept it in mind for Sam. So we are thrilled he's able to go, too. It would be even better if he WROTE US A LETTER so we knew it was as awesome as we hoped. But whatever. My letters to him are increasingly pleading threatening inviting so I think he'll get the message sometime along the way.
My mothering years are galloping by at breakneck pace. I'd love to peek in on our years of afternoon summer naps and swim diapers and sticky popsicle faces and towel bundled babies on my lap and 5:00 bathtime. Just to visit. Maybe linger. It's true: the days are long but the years are short. I used to roll my eyes at it but turns out they knew what they were talking about.
Now remind me: why didn't I have more kids? Just kidding. Kinda.
. . .