I'm Not Sending My Daughter to Sleep Away Camp and I'm Okay if She Temporarily Hates Me
This summer, despite my daughter’s incessant pleas I’ve decided not to send her to sleep away camp. I know my decision is partly because I just can’t bear the thought of not seeing her face for an entire two months and of course the hefty $5,000 fee was a bit too bitter of a pill to swallow.
But if I dig a little deeper, aside from the monetary issue, another reason I can't imagine sending my daughter away for eight full weeks is because I just can't fathom being apart from her for that long. It's not that I worry she would flounder without me- in fact I feel quite the opposite. I'm confident she would blossom, but the bottom line is that I would miss it. I would not be privy to all the big and minuscule details of her every day ordinary experience. I wouldn't be there just to watch her while she combed her hair (during which time we are prone to having our best off the cuff conversations) or to sit on her bed while she read a book and I read mine. I know I would spend those two months bereft; I would so long for her physical presence, just to see her eyes and to be able to immediately read her expression. And I 'd also worry that perhaps the time and distance between us would inevitably create a wedge and once we were reunited- it would be that much harder to resume that sweet synchronicity we shared prior to her eight week absence.
Being a mother to a daughter is such a complex relationship-- it's this constant balancing act of never wanting to let your daughter experience anything but unicorns and rainbows, but knowing full well that in order to develop, your daughter needs to have both good and bad experiences that you mustn't interfere with. And yet as women we all know that friendships with other girls, crushes on boys and self defeating thoughts about one's body image can all wreak havoc on any girl, and well, I just want to be that sounding board for her when she still WANTS and will accept my help navigating this stuff. I don't have to beg just yet for her to share things with me, and I worry that not seeing her for eight weeks- could potentially disrupt this effortless ebb and flow we've erected. Is that selfish of me? Am I a bad mother? I think the answers are not so black and white. There is so much gray in motherhood. And it's not as though I'm keeping her locked up in a sweatshop in our dungeon like basement for eight weeks. She will in fact be treated to a day camp experience that will be rife with swimming lessons, day trips, dance classes, crafts and so many of the same pursuits she'd be afforded at this sleep away camp. EXCEPT for one big difference. Every summer afternoon when she gets home from day camp, instead of rushing to do homework and getting ready for bed- that twilight time will be ours to bask in, to swim, to read, to talk and to just be beside one another. And how many more of these summers of my 11 year old running under a sprinkler across our lawn with her little seven year old brother do I really have left?
So now that I've got her captive at least one more summer, I’m determined to facilitate as many experiences between my 11 year old her and her seven year old brother as I possibly can, so their childhood summer memories will be inextricably linked, and the subsequent bonds forged will lay the foundation for even more meaningful ones as they grow into adulthood. I do think this all helps my case for not sending my 11 year old to sleep away camp-right?! And I have at least 10 months to figure out how she'll spend the summer of her 12th year. But right here, right now, at least I know I'll get her for those eight precious weeks and that's enough for me.