I was looking forward to my two weeks’ summer vacation, as well as the following week where my son would be at sleep-away camp. As a single mom of an 11-year-old, I am always “on," and finding time for shopping, dinner with friends and even quiet reflection can be tough.
Boy, was I ready for it. It came off an expensive summer of baby-sitters and athletic day camps and battling traffic (why so heavy this summer?) to get home in time. Run, run, run. But an odd thing happened. As soon as I dropped my son off at camp, I missed him. A lot. More than I thought I would, and maybe more than I should have. And the feeling only grew stronger as the week went on.
Being a single parent of an only child is a very intense bond. It’s not to suggest that I love my child more, but the closeness doesn’t need to be shared with anyone else. In a way, it’s selfish, but it is what it is. Just the two of you means when one is gone, there’s no distractions. And a quiet home was not the pleasure I thought it would be. It only reminded me of how much I missed him.
He couldn’t call or email me, so I was left with an empty house and a mind full of worry. Was he having fun? Was he cold or hot or homesick? Was he eating well and drinking lots of water? I hope he remembered the sunscreen, I thought to myself as I drove to work and the sun beat down on the windshield. I hope he’s making friends.
My week of fun and frolic was detoured when my mother became very ill. I spent the week sitting beside a hospital bed when not working. Despite that, the major nagging feeling all week was how much I missed my son. It was almost like when I quit smoking, and I kept looking for my pack of cigarettes. It felt, in an irrational way, like I left him at a store or friend’s house and forgot to pick him up. I missed his chatter, his funny jokes, seeing him head off to a friend’s house on his bike.
When I returned to camp to pick him up, he ran to hug me. I heard all about the fun and crazy things kids do in camp — the canoe tipping over and a bull's-eye in archery — but he said he doesn’t think he would ever want to be without me or his dog or his house again for a whole week.
Fine with me for now, but perhaps as time goes on, we will both learn how to let go a little more.