For some reason, sending my second child to overnight camp for the first time seems to be harder than sending her sister.
This is in part due to the fact that they are very different children. My oldest has always been independent and what most people describe as a "tough girl." My younger one is much more sensitive and mommy-centered. But there's no doubt my feelings also have to do with the fact that this is the very last first time I send a child to overnight camp.
The milestones for the second or last child are forever more indelible on your brain because they symbolize not just something in the life if that child, but a corner turned in parenthood never to be revisited.
"Mom, the first year I went to camp I didn't get one letter from you. I was the only kid who didn't get any mail," my older daughter scolds me as she helps me pack her sister's bag. "And I also don't remember you packing my bag for me. I'm pretty sure I did it myself."
The truth is you learn from your mistakes with your older children. She's right, I didn't know about sending mail a week in advance when your child is only at camp for a week. You literally have to send it days before they leave for camp in order for them to get it when they are there.
This summer, my younger daughter will receive a piece of mail every day and a care package. And yes, I did go down the checklist and help her pack her bag. Frankly, I don't really remember not helping my older daughter, but if I didn't it was only because she wouldn't let me. I'm sure she had the checklist and a pen poised to cross off each item as she put it in her bag not wanting the oversight of her over-protective mother.
Going away to camp is a great experience not just for kids, but for their parents. Cutting the apron strings is a step-by-step process; we need to take baby steps first. I know my daughter will have a wonderful time at camp, and I will miss her every second, and I'm pretty sure she'll miss me too.
But I am fully aware that someday they will go away for good, only home for short visits and holidays. So while I will enjoy the week free of major meal planning, driving to activities, and worrying about child care, I look forward to her return more than you can imagine and my return to the chaos and joy of motherhood.
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including some on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.