one small step for ava... one giant leap for me
"7....8.....9....10! Ready or not, here I come!" That's exactly how I felt when Ava started summer camp this past Monday. I mean, c'mon - didn't I just give birth to her? Is she really ready for friends, classrooms, and teachers with rules?
The choice to be a Work-at-Home-Mom was my surefire way to keep Ava all to myself. And then reality hit quickly and I am realizing [ok, accepting the fact] that Ava is curious about other little people. She should be. They are weird. But interesting. And she will learn so much from them.
So Aaron and I started doing our homework, and we decided that a summer camp session for one week - at only 2 hours a day - would be a fair compromise. I can work on the Mom-thing of "letting go" and Ava can explore the idea of going to school like children do in her picture books. The night before camp, I was nauseous and nervous thinking about all the "what-ifs." Just trying to find a backpack for her to store her extra set of clothes was a nightmare. So I did what every Mom would do in such a predicament - I went shopping for one. Three stores later, with nothing in her size, I moved on to plan B - and made her one. Except, when I finished [2 hours later] and held it up, I realized she wouldn't even be able to fit her bathing suit inside. By Monday morning, my vision started to blur.
I eventually pulled myself together to notice how calm and fun Ava was having getting ready for "school." She squeezed Noah and kissed his face and told him she'll be back to play with him soon.
The first to arrive and the last to go - I was the Mom from planet paranoia. I watched as other parents gracefully handled the introductions and then sway their toddler's bangs away from their eyes while floating out the door. I desperately wanted to make myself transparent and just watch Ava in this new monumental experience. Finally, I built enough courage to turn and start walking when I regretfully glanced back to see if Ava would notice me leave. Instead, I witnessed George pick his nose and lick his finger. [Huge sigh...] It begins.
When I got home and walked through the living room, I found Noah peacefully sitting alone and tuning the dial on his tv. There wasn't a brown-eyed tower standing over him yelling, "that's mine!" Or a tornado of curly hair swooshing against his face with wet kisses. No, there was none of that this morning. Just our little Noah and the golden opportunity to be himself without his big sister. And so we made time for cuddling, tickling, reading and playing... with toys all to ourselves...
Our little learner came home each day of this week - loving school. Thankfully, the school we chose shares our philosophy on how learning should be: fun, natural and creative. I'm ashamed to say it, but I had to bribe her a few times at pickup. On the 3rd day, Aaron made her a "welcome home" sign so she could start looking forward to coming home also. On her last day, we all picked her up to celebrate her week at camp. Ava spotted Noah standing in the hall - and without pausing, she ran straight to him and gave him a big hug.
Ava's week at camp has made me realize that ready or not - the journey of parenting happens lightening fast and tightening the seat belts won't slow it down. This new experience has been encouraging for what Aaron and I have been doing all along... building our kids a strong launch pad to take off from with the mission to reach for the stars...