August 7, 2013
Last week Céline was at camp. Her first, and our family's first, experience with a sleepover camp.
There have been very few sleepovers in Céline's life - a ten day trip to visit Nana & Papa when she was ten, and a couple nights being cared for by a close friend of mine while Damien and I traveled to a sibling's wedding and another time when we celebrated our anniversary.
At fourteen, she was definitely ready for a week away from home. Not ready in a "I can't wait to go to camp" sense. She's never been to camp. She was hesitant, unsure what to expect, reserved about the whole experience; but open to trying it. That's Céline.
I was thrilled, when we picked her up, to hear that she enjoyed it. It was fun, she'd go again.
Céline was fine. It was me who suffered. I felt her absence something fierce. It felt like grief, having my daughter out of my reach and sphere (we didn't have any contact with her during the week).
I don't know how to explain it and I'm not exaggerating but I felt distracted, unmoored, and even bereft with her gone.
She was an hour away from home but it felt like she had left the planet. Our home groove wasn't the same, the days seemed without sunshine (ok, so that was mostly true, but it was worse with Céline gone).
What's funny about this is that Céline and I aren't all chummy, buddy-buds during the day. She goes about her business and I go about mine, but she's always there. Sitting at the kitchen counter, joining me for a run, hanging out with her Dad.
And when she's in my presence I know she's ok. She's safe. Last week I had to let go of this and let go of her. (For the record I couldn't do this when my kids were little. The younger two won't go to camp till they are teens also. I'm unapologetically protective of our children. But fourteen is not a child anymore and it was time to let go a bit.)
Going to camp felt like the official launch of the separation process that will be taking place during her young adult years.
Of course, she has been separating in subtle and significant ways for years but this felt like the real thing.
With great relief (on my part) we picked Céline up last Friday night, and she talked our ears off on the drive home (I smiled the whole time). The next morning, after some shuffling of clothes from suitcase to backpack, we drove to Rivière-du-Loup for a weekend with my family.
My brother, his wife and three kids were traveling home to Ontario from a month in Nova Scotia. Rivière-du-Loup is halfway between their home and my parent's (the full trip is twenty hours or so).
My parents were making the trip with them to this halfway point to pick up Brienne. Like her sister and brother before her, this summer was her turn for an only child visit with the grandparents.
Lucky for us Rivière-du-Loup is only 5 hours (taking the scenic route) from our house. We definitely got the driving deal. It was going to be a two night visit for my whole family.
And then yesterday morning, while packing up, my brother and his wife proposed driving back to visit us, since they were in the "neighborhood". After about a minute recalibrating my mental plans I eagerly said yes and here they are at our house. Hiking was on the agenda today. Tomorrow we'll hang out around here.
They will stay a few days and we will have a much needed visit with their family, sans Brienne who will be swimming, running and eating treats at Nana's house.
Next week my parents will return to Québec to do a cycling tour around the peninsula and we'll pick up Brienne, at another meet up point. The week after that we'll meet my parents on the final destination of their cycling tour, for a camping trip, at the end of the peninsula in the beautiful town of Percé.
And there goes August whooshing by.
I thought this whoosh of August might be because our kids are older and there is just a lot more coming and going in our lives because of that. Or maybe it's because this month is busy with managing our Maine rental, thru-hike prep, homemaking, and some homeschool coaching and connecting.
But I spent some time in the blog archives last night (the archives are messy, I wouldn't recommend a visit at this point) and I see this whoosh is August, always.
This whoosh might just be life in general.
Kids growing up and the double edged sword of angst and joy in that process, traveling and family visits, homemaking and creativity, work and obligations (like paying the bills!), exercise and the outdoors - this isn't just August, it's life.
So, I'm not going to bemoan this whoosh. I'm going to live these days, as full as I can.
It's tempting to say, "when life settles down" I'll (fill-in-the-blank)... connect more with my family, start exercising, do that big thing I've always wanted to do, eat more vegetables, hike the AT, whatever.
That place - where life quiets down, allowing your days to stretch unencumbered and hours to pursue, at leisure, all the things you want to do - it doesn't exist. Not in my world at least.
The things you want from life must be grabbed from it, while living. And we don't arrive one day at a life well lived; perfectly planned and executed. We live it, day by day. And each of those days is a gift.
My niece and I
P.S. If you have contacted me in the past couple weeks (advertising, coaching, encouragement, etc.) and haven't heard back from me please hang tight. This month is taking me for a ride and I'm holding on and doing just those things that must be done while living the fullness of family life. I'll respond as soon as I'm able.
P.P.S Super looking forward to tomorrow's free homeschool chat. I hope to schedule another chat for early September, topic TBD. I'll keep you posted.
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