I am so proud of my little man. And I could call him that now, a little man, as he did so well for his first ever sleep away at Winter Camp for three days two nights. He loved all of it, mostly the food. Those were his words. 🙂 From the time I picked him up at school with his luggage, he talked in excitement non stop about his three days of adventures. He recounted tubing, roasting marshmallows, the great food, playing in the cabins with his friends, and several times made me promise to “sign the forms” next year to send him back again. He never once said he missed me or his Dad which told me that he truly was ready for this experience, though of course he did say he’s happy to be home and hugged me extra hard at bedtime.
For me when I saw him in the classroom for the first time in two days, I had another emotional moment. My throat closed up for a minute, and I silently reminded myself, don’t cry with joy that you are seeing him again. You don’t want him to see you cry and get confused. He’s growing up, spreading his wings, and this is something to be celebrated. Being a parent is such a strange experience. I truly enjoyed the little parental “rest” I’d gotten over the last few days. I enjoyed watching a movie with Michael’s Dad, our couples massage, our dinner out, and, though it was hard, talking about things other than autism, bills and house stuff, though we slipped up a few times. We need more practice, more days and nights like this.
Once you are a parent there’s no going back. I was never totally away from thinking of my little boy. How was he enjoying being at a nature camp? How was he coping with sleeping away from his bed? How was he eating, toileting? Ah, the things Moms worry about. Mind you, even when he is at school, at his grandparents’ house, at an activity, he is never far from my mind, my thoughts. My own mother said to me when I first got married about how having children was the real deal breaker that changed you. You could never “unbecome” a parent though you could have a do over in any other area in your life, a job, a marriage, a friendship. But becoming a parent was forever. Another Mom friend who I spoke to totally getting what three adult days without Michael in the house said, “It’s quiet without him there,eh?” And then she smiled in that knowing way. She had experienced that too when her daughters slept away from home. You’re always a parent first, even when your kids are elsewhere. With each passing day I see what my Mom meant. There’s no going back. I personally think you are changed for the better, but it is an awesome responsibility all the same.
Exceptional Parents, what experiences have you all had when your Exceptional Children slept away from home, if you’ve experienced this with them yet? Was it a positive one for you, for them? Michael’s Dad and I had a weird moment going for a late dinner the other night. We remembered back when we used to do this before Michael was born. It seemed eons ago, not nine years. Parenthood is a growth experience. It opens up your mind to a different kind of loving, and if you let it, to a different way of experiencing the world. So let it change and mold you. Let your Exceptional Child be your Exceptional Teacher. Until next time.