If you are a parent who sends your kids to sleep-away camp each year, then I know you are getting giddy with excitement. Now hear me out. It doesn’t make me a bad mom that I look forward to having a full month of no parental responsibilities. Once my son’s camp bus pulls away and our daughter moves in with my parents while she works in a trendy retail store this summer, my husband and I can throw caution to the wind, stay out to all hours of the night, throw a wild party or maybe even go on a romantic getaway.
Since my husband is superstitious about flying without our kids, our mini couples retreats have to be within driving distance of our home. But some of our friends and neighbors have been way more bold and have literally left for the airport for an international flight the minute their kids’ bus pulls out of the depot.
For those of you thinking that parents like us are just horrible because we delight in taking a break from our kids, trust me when I tell you, I actually never wanted to send our son away to camp. I used to love spending one on one time with him until he finally came to both us and declared that he wanted to go to the same camp his sister had been attending for years. While we only let him go for four weeks, he’s currently lobbying to increase his stay for another three weeks next year — and I have a feeling that we are going to fold and let him do it. You see, there’s something pretty amazing about sleep away camp that can be transformative for a child. From learning the proper way to make your bed, to participating in group activities and team sports, to taking road trips with their counselors and friends, my son literally counts the days until it’s time to go back. He’s also made incredible friendships with boys who live in Florida, New Jersey, Maryland and New York and he’s even forged international ties with his counselors who hail from Scotland, Australia and South Africa.
On the flip side, our daughter, who is now 16, decided to give up camp and landed a job at her favorite teen and women’s boutique in Southampton, New York. Just so the record is clear — we are far from a privileged family. I just count myself lucky since my parents managed to score a retirement home in the Hamptons nearly 20 years ago and my family has benefitted from their incredibly wise decision. As of Monday, we are buying our daughter a one way ticket on the Hampton Jitney where she’ll be dropped off in a parking lot in Southampton where her grandparents will be waiting to take care of her until Labor Day. Of course, we’ll be out every weekend too but it is kind of great knowing that she’ll get to spend quality one-on-one time with my parents and earn money too. She’s growing up super fast, but I’m just glad that she’s getting the chance to have an experience this summer that she will never forget.
And as for us, we are not hopping a flight to Cabo or boarding a cruise bound for the Bahamas; but we are going to do the things we typically enjoy when the kids aren’t around. We’ll go out for a few romantic dinners, connect with friends who’ve been too busy to get together during the school year, go on a wine tasting excursion and maybe even take a road trip to a cozy B&B. With our kids away, the possibilities are endless. And while we’re not yet empty nesters, it does give us the chance to re-connect and remember why we fell in love in the first place. While being a parent is great and we love our kids more than anything, it’s also nice to be a couple again. So here’s to sleep away camp, grandparents and a mini honeymoon for us. Oh how I love the summer.