The dark side

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I’m in a little bit of a dark place today, guys. Bear with me here while I get this off my chest…

I have been a busy, anxious, worried mess this week. My two oldest kids(12 and 8) are at church camp for the first time – this is the first time they’ve been away without any family. There have been many weekends spent with grandparents or cousins, and the occasional overnight with a friend, but they’ve never been AWAY without family before. The camp they’re at is in the same town that my parents live in, but it’s not like they get to see them every day, so essentially they are on their own.

The night before they left (they left Monday morning) I tossed and turned all night hoping we had packed everything they would need, and just being generally nervous( I played it totally cool around the kids – I didn’t want my nervousness rubbing off on them). I have thought about them constantly and hoped they were having fun and learning a lot. Yesterday they invited all the parents to come and eat pizza with the campers for Family Night, and since I had to take Mallory to my mom’s house (the babysitter is gone for the next two days, so gma is my backup), we all decided to go see the kids. When we got there, they were both a little quiet – I think they were tired and having allergy problems – but they perked up a little after we ate (I think they must have been hungry too). We walked around the camp and saw their cabins, which by the way, looked like a prison camp instead of a summer camp – gray concrete floors, gray walls, heavy black metal bunk beds crammed into a small-ish room, not exactly the kind of place that screams “Jesus loves you!”.  Anyway, after a while Matthew mentioned that his stomach was hurting (this was IMMEDIATELY after we saw one little boy who was probably 9 or 10 years old leaving with his mom – he didn’t want to stay anymore), and I knew what was really going on, but I asked him what he had been eating, etc and he kind of dropped it for a while. Then later he said it was hurting again and I told him to go into the bathroom, then he came back out and started to cry so we went and sat down and I asked him if it was really his stomach or was he just homesick? He said both, so we talked for awhile and he said he wanted to go home…

Now I think I should tell you all that I totally expected this. He’s a homebody and not one to jump right in to an unknown adventure. I tried to prepare him before he left, but I don’t think he really understood. Usually in these instances, once he’s there and he knows what to expect, he’s fine, but if I make the mistake of telling him he doesn’t have to go through with it, he won’t – he’ll come running home in tears. However if I don’t give him the option of bowing out, he’ll usually stick it out and end up really enjoying the experience.

So we talked for awhile and he laid down on his bed and I got him calmed down (he was making himself more upset by trying NOT to cry) and I told him that he really only had one more full day and then Friday morning my dad would come pick up him and his sister (they are done with camp by 11:00 Friday morning, so they are going to hang out at gma and gpa’s until I can come pick them up). I told him to just lie down for awhile and rest and I would come check on him again before we left.

I hate seeing my kids upset like that, so as soon as I left his cabin, I started to cry. It took me a few minutes to pull myself together and – oh did I mention that it’s virtually IMPOSSIBLE to get any privacy at this place? So if you have to cry, you’ll be doing it in front of numerous people. I visited with Sarah for awhile, who is doing really well with everything by the way, and then when it was time to go home, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to go back into see Matthew without crying, so Shawn went in and talked to him and told him we were leaving. He told him to just try and stick it out until Friday but if it didn’t get better, to call gma and she would come get him.

I have felt so awful since last night. I feel bad that he wanted to come home, I feel bad that I made him stay (even though I really think it’s best), I feel bad that I didn’t tell him bye when we left (even though I KNOW it would made things worse if I had). I just feel so…so…dark. I’ll be glad when Friday rolls around and I know they are happy and safe at gma’s house.

All of this has been made 10x worse by the fact that I have started my period a week EARLY – I am never early. I am right on the money every month, so something weird is going on – stress and anxiety perhaps? I don’t know but whatever is going on, it’s made it a sucky week for me.

So that’s what’s been going on with me. I have a whole list of other things to blog about, but this has been primarily what I’ve been dealing with all week. I promise my next post will be less from the dark side and more sun shiny cheeriness.

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9 thoughts on “The dark side

  1. Oh that must be so hard! Sophie’s a home body too. I totally understand where your oldest is coming from. (heck, I was the same way at that age) He’s through the worst of it. It will be over soon. Hopefully they have had a good week & it was just seeing you guys that made it harder. Growing up is really tough, isn’t it? And now that we are parents, I’m wondering if it’s harder on us than it is on our kids?

    Keep saying prayers for him. & Friday morning will be here soon.

    Big hugs!

  2. Hey, everyone has had these types of moments. It’s certainly not unusual to feel that way when one of your children is miserable. Only one more day and he’ll be safe and sound with g’ma. Hopefully, he will look back at this and remember it with less misery than he’s feeling right now.

  3. Aw, Jill, I wish I could be there to give you a big hug! You are a good mommy, that’s for sure.

    I think overall this will be a good experience for him. Even if the camp itself is not a good experience, it will still be easier for him the next time he has to leave home. (And he will have to leave home, won’t he? That is in your plans eventually, right? Just teasing, Jill!)

    Summer church camp was such a great time for me, even though I wasn’t the most outgoing kid. I just loved it. But my little brother was more like your son. Plus he was VERY picky about food, so he hated summer camp. And he still talks about how horrible it was. But now its just funny.

    Did they have a place to swim, or crafts or sports to do, or horses to ride or places to hike? I will be praying for him today!

    p.s. I wonder if your period came early because you are losing weight. I know something hormonally happened with me both times that I have lost a lot of weight…

  4. Hoo boy. I feel for ya, probably because I have a son who’s a homebody, too. I find it tough, too, to know whether to push an activity/situation or whether to drop it. In your case, it’s only one more day, and you gave him an option for getting out if it becomes unbearable, so it sounds like (hard as it was) you handled it very well. Hang in there!

  5. This is what we moms fear, isn’t it??? My son is going off to his first Christian overnight camp next month. We went to an open house, and he liked the looks of it. But I’m sure it’ll be hard for all of us when we drop him off. I hope he’ll be okay! It’s only five nights. But he isn’t an outgoing kid, so I hope someone befriends him. Are we doing the right thing? I just want him to have some independence and a life of his own without parents hovering over him. What’s your conclusion… will you send your kids to camp again?

    • Jill

      When it was all said and done, both of my kids said they had a great time and can’t wait to go again next year. My son is not outgoing either, but he had plenty of kids to hang out with, and he even said that it was worth all the homesickness! I will send them again – I think it’s a good experience for them and for me! I really appreciated them a lot more when they were safe at home with me! 🙂

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