I dropped my youngest off last Sunday for his first,week-long overnight cub scouts camp. I didn't cry. I didn't ache. I had a little twinge of worry as he hugged me several times assuredly, as though he felt I needed it more than I would let on. The twinge was indefinable; did I worry because it might hit him later, the distance? Did I worry about the myriad of things that could go wrong - likely wouldn't but whispered quietly from some back corner of my consciousness? I watched him as he set himself upon the task of arranging his tent, laying out his provisions; settling in. We said our good-byes and left him to his preparations. My husband asked, "are you worrying?" I said no and he replied, "great, because you aren't I am!" We chuckled then fell silent. Each wanting to say, "he'll be fine" each knowing there is always the smallest shred of doubt.
Tonight a tan and confident (albeit exhausted) boy approached me. I grinned and spread my arms wide, he leaned against me and started into chatter. There were no tears, no drama just artifacts of a week spent with boys his age and all that that implies. I was beginning to think he'd grown away from his need for me when I realized that he'd reached for my hand several times as we went about the business of rounding up his possessions and checking out. It wasn't just a casual off-hand catch and release, but rather he reached for me as he hasn't in ages and wrapped his fingers round my arm, and grasped my hands, parting my fingers with his own for a better grip. I felt the maternal pull and ache of heartstrings and stopped to stare at my sandy haired youngest, tall and fit, dressed in khaki shorts and hiking boots, who wasn't letting his excitement run his words into a jumble. I realized he'd grown from this experience, and yet, still longed for home, his comforts and his security. I think a part of me had feared that he'd no longer need me. Yes, it was silly. But your children grow so fast and time does not wait for you to grow accustomed to their autonomy. I was proud that he'd come away with so much maturity, and positivity from the experience, and relieved that his love for his mother, could still be found.