I woke up that morning with a big smile on my face. I didn’t toss and turn and avoid getting up and I only hit snooze button once instead of the usual five times.
Today was gonna be a good day, today my baby was coming home.
It didn’t really hit me that he was gone until we had returned home from dropping him off. As we walked in the house and the triplets scattered, I instantly felt a pain in my heart. Someone was missing.
And that’s when gates opened and I crumbled into a mess of sobs.
My oldest son away from home at camp for one week.
He was so excited to go, couldn’t wait for the day when he could go to overnight camp. I was so proud of him. Seven days away from home, not knowing a soul at camp and not even blinking an eye when we all said good bye.
But as the week progressed, my need for him increased. I couldn’t help but worry… Was he eating enough? Was he sleeping? Was he wearing sunscreen? Was he drinking enough water? Were the kids being nice to him? Was he changing his underwear? Was he having fun? Was he missing me?
I can’t tell you how many times I wished that I could just call and check on him. Every day, I would excitedly check the mail for a letter, a quick note, a random art project of feathers, something that would connect me to him but nothing came.
I told myself that this was a good thing. He was too busy to miss home, miss the family, miss… me. That’s how it should be after all.
But that still stings.
When we arrived at camp, I was giddy. I couldn’t help but smile. We had about 20 minutes to wait until the end of camp program started and it took all my self control to not run through camp like a lunatic yelling and shouting his name. Being in the same location as him but not being near him was killing me.
I just wanted him.
We decided to walk to the seating area and suddenly there he was. He popped up in the window of the dining hall. He was surrounded by friends and all smiles.
The triplets ran to him and he acted cool. He nodded at me and his dad, said something about needing to eat his toast and then was gone from sight.
There he was. I had laid eyes on him. He was wearing pajamas and a straw sombrero, his face was smudged with jelly and dirty but he was in one piece. He looked happy.
It was then I released the breath I didn’t know I was holding.
As the campers walked into the seating area and took the stage, I was flooded with memories of my time at summer camp. The freedom to be a kid. No parents nagging, no real rules to follow, just good times. I felt goose bumps prickle my arms as the kids sang some of their camp songs and I knew this would be a time he would never forget.
I watched my son pick at his hat, toss his shoe in the air and do anything but sing the songs. I smiled to myself, being away for a week really didn’t change him. He was still the same kid.
The ache in my arms grew stronger. I wanted him. I needed him. It was long past time.
All the campers filed out and were supposed to head back to their cabins and that’s where families would be reunited but I couldn’t wait.
The sombrero made him easy to find and from the way he was trying to play is cool but also wondering around looking, I knew he wanted me too.
“Hayden!” I called.
He didn’t hear me.
“HAYDEN!” I called again, louder but still he didn’t hear me.
“Hey,” I said this time close enough to touch his arm.
He turned to face me and literally fell into my arms and that’s when the tears began to fall as he tried to press his little but big body into mine trying to erase all the distance between us.
At first I was worried he was hurt but then I knew… he just missed me.
I held him. I held him as we stood together in the middle of a crowd of people. I held him as tight as I could.
And he held me back.
Finally, I pulled him off of me to get a good look at him.
Before me was my oldest son who, even though was only gone a week, looked older… more mature, more independent. He was also dirty. Probably the dirtiest kid I had ever seen.
He wiped the tears from his face making the dirt smudges worse, he said to me, ”Mom, I ran out of underwear so my weenie is just dangling in my shorts.”
A spry smile spread across his face and I couldn’t help but laugh.
“Come on,” I said pulling him close and kissing his forehead, “let’s get you home.”