I handed my daughter a new toothbrush and toothpaste to pack alongside of her bathing suit and flip-flops.
“Do you need more sun screen or the little stick that you can swipe across your nose?” I asked. She continued folding clothes she would need, along with her journal and an assortment of pens.
“I think I’m fine,” she said, looking under her bed and retrieving a lost tennis shoe.
“Do you have batteries for your camera?” I asked.
I remembered the first time I dropped Emma off at camp. She was eight years old. I had a hard time getting back into the car and driving off without her. I remember the quiet car ride home and couldn’t wait until the week was over to pick her up.
The sunny days had freckled her nose and left light streaks in her brown, bobbed hair. She smelled like a mixture of fresh air, mosquito spray and marshmallows. She had the time of her life.
For the first time, I realized that she was more capable of surviving without me than I was of surviving without her.
But this wasn’t just a weeklong stay at Camp Joy.
This was six months on the other side of the world.
Emma had graduated a semester early from high school and opted to travel to Saipan to experience island life before settling into the rigors of college. While I wanted her to trust the Lord with her plans and stay in His presence, I was having a difficult time not getting in the way and, at times, casting my own shadow.
“Mom,” she looked at me. “I am totally going to be fine. Plus, I will be staying with Aunt Beth and Uncle Andy. Really. You don’t have to worry.”
But worrying tends to be part of the whole parenting package.
How odd it is when you find out you are expecting a child. You are sent home after your first ob/gyn visit with a small diaper bag full of coupons, samples for baby products you never knew existed and a thick book titled What to Expect When You’re Expecting.
You have nine months to prepare to bring your bundle of joy into the world, yet very little time to prepare for when they begin to stretch their wings, lift off from the nest, and soar into the next chapter of their life without you.
This is a huge transition for kids, but also for parents. We assume that the Lord gives us kids so we can help them grow up. But in reality, I wonder how many times it is the other way around.
“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast” (Psalm 139:7-10).
So pack your bags and be ready for the journey.
Because whether it is Camp Joy, Saipan or somewhere in between, the Lord is with you and your kids.