It’s official: The dog days of summer have arrived complete with sticky mornings, blazing hot days and thick humid evenings where the air is so heavy it’s sometimes hard to breathe.
This past Friday, I spent one of those dog days taking my oldest daughter and her two friends to summer camp at the coast — a rite of passage for young teenagers ready to escape their summer boredom.
My daughter has never been one of those children who is immediately excited about going to summer camp, who counts down the days and looks forward to seeing old friends, but she agrees to go as long as she can bunk with people she knows.
This summer, I think she is actually a little more enthusiastic than usual as her dog days have now turned into groundhog days filled with babysitting her little sister and completing 500-piece puzzles. The camp she attends is old-fashioned-swimming, arts and crafts, and mediocre food. But I know she will come home with great memories, not to mention a suitcase full of damp clothes.
Last year, I committed the biggest faux pas in the parenting/camper handbook — no letters from home. In my defense, my mother was living at my house with terminal cancer at the time, but to be honest, I didn’t even think about sending her a letter.
For one thing, we live in such a world of immediacy where texting and emailing have become the norm for communication, that I’ve almost forgotten the art of letter writing.
Secondly, she is only there for a week. How many letters could I actually get to her in that amount of time unless I mailed them the day she left?
But then it occurred to me that letters from home are less about content and relevance than they are about the connection our children need with us as they take baby steps into the world. Separation from parents begins with playdates, sleepovers, class trips, camp, and then ultimately becomes complete for many families with college.
While our children will always come home again, once they leave the nest at 18, they are beginning their independent lives away from our constant watchful eyes.
So, this year, I vowed to make sure my daughter gets a letter, if not every single day, almost every day. I’m sure I won’t have much to say, but that’s OK.
I want her to know that she is missed, that she is loved, and that she always has a family to come home to, now and forever.
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including three on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.