Sunday, August 4, 2013

My T1 Kid is at Camp for Three Weeks! Freedom or not?

It is day 14 and I feel SO much better than I did on day seven. Day six and seven, in fact, I was a wreck. It was so quiet in the house and I hadn't made any plans. That was a mistake. Now, I used to think that quiet and solitude was all I wanted. I'd think, "If only I didn't have so many things to do, so many things to think about."

As the mother of a 12 year-old daughter with Type 1 Diabetes, my mind rarely gets the luxury of quiet. The space to do nothing; to think about nothing. Although, this usually has more to do with the "being 12,"  than with diabetes. I spend a whole lot of my life with some question, instruction, request, point of clarification or command right on the tip of my tongue. But with her gone to camp for three weeks, day six and seven kicked my ass.

We both knew she would be gone a long time. For years, she was very hesitant to go to this camp, but a buddy with T1 said she would go, too.  So we booked her first full summer session to Camp Sweeney, a camp for kids with T1 in North Texas, about an hour and a half from Dallas. It's been around since the 1950s and is a wonderland for play, fun and friends. They also learn a helluva a lot about being a kid with T1. They normalize it and prioritize it.

My busy mind enjoyed helping her pack for the adventure. We bought stationary, a journal, shampoo and conditioner, special name stickers, so her stuff wouldn't get lost. Lots and lots of stuff to buy, think about and do.

Delivering her to camp resulted in one tear spurting. While waiting in the medical check-in line, she pushed my camera out of her face...and my own blood sugar was low.  I could not stop the leaking. Thanks goodness I was at a diabetic camp; they had juice.

After making her bunk and kissing her goodbye 10,000 times, my husband and I went to a museum in Ft. Worth. This was our first freedom stop after 13 years of non-stop parenting and 9 years of non-stop diabetes care-giving. We had a blast! We were silly and laughed a lot. We even mailed our first postcard to our camper from the post office next to the museum.

The week flew by. I wrote every day, watched every live broadcast and worked. But the quiet of Saturday morning undid me. By Sunday, I was depressed. I could not get motivated to do anything. I just sat and thought. I had lots of existential questions and few answers, but fundamentally, I didn't know who I was without my role as MOM.

It felt like what I would imagine empty nest syndrome feels like. I felt very sorry for myself. It was rather pathetic, but it felt kind of cathartic, too. Like maybe this was less about my daughter going to camp and more about my daughter growing up.
Riding in my husband's 1966 VW Bug is like a happy pill!

My stasis didn't last terribly long. My husband grabbed me by the hand for a ride in his bug to the local snow cone stand. I got pickle juice, which matched my sour mood, but it really cheered me up.

I still tune in (almost) nightly for the live broadcasts from camp. I check the "cabin highlights" webpage daily, I send cards and emails, but I got into a new groove. I am far more comfortable in my skin as a woman, outside my roles as worker, wife, mother, caregiver. I feel settled and I hope she got settled with herself at camp, too.

This time apart may have had far reaching benefits for us as a family. And, I can't wait to pick her up Friday!

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