camp

My Kids are Going to Sleepaway Camp This Summer But I Already Miss Them


Not a fan of empty rooms.

Well, it’s done: the boys are going to Jewish sleepaway camp this summer. It’s a few months away, but already, I’m a little teary. I’m pretty sure I will miss them more than they will miss me.

It’s not because I am unmissable. I mean, look at me: I am a bundle of fun. While I am sure the boys will relish not brushing their hair or teeth for three weeks, perhaps every so often they will think of me fondly in passing. Like when they look down at the crap around their bunk and think, “Boy, look at my crumpled up clothes–no one can fold them like Mom,” or “Wow, Mom would NEVER let us leave the room like this at home.” And they will certainly think of me for at least five seconds when they find the pre-addressed and stamped postcards home at the bottom of their luggage at the end of the summer and say, “Oops.”

They’re boys, after all.

I’m looking forward to the summer and yet simultaneously dreading it, because it confirms what I always suspected: they are growing up. And, as Superman says, “Up, up…and away.”

I’ve had time away from them with training wheels for a while now, though. Since I got divorced when they were 3 and 2 years old, I’ve lived my life according to the Divorce Pendulum. It swings this way and that: every other weekend, I take them to the ex-husband’s house. Wednesday nights, the ex-husband’s house. Memorial Day weekend, they’ll be here if it’s an even year (like 2014, for example), and at my house for Labor Day weekend if it isn’t. I joke that God had amazing foresight in granting those of us in the diaspora two seders and two days of Rosh Hashanah: all the better for custody arrangements, my dear.

Since getting remarried, I now have two “full-time” children (though sometimes when the toddler is cranky, my husband and I joke about sending her to my ex’s house as well). You’d think this might make the separation from my boys easier. It doesn’t. It makes their absence more palpable.

What are the words you are supposed to use to tell a toddler that her two older brothers that she loves are with someone they call “Daddy” who isn’t the person she calls “Daddy”? How are you supposed to tell a toddler with no sense of time when her brothers are coming home, let alone why they aren’t home? How can I not find this painful when I have to go over it every other week?

When we moved into our old 1880s-era house, we put the boys’ rooms on the third floor. In part, the placement was so the boys would have their own space where their Legos would be safe from crawling babies. I will admit, though, that it was also in part because it is too painful for me to go near their rooms when they are empty. If anything, the older they get, the more I love and miss them.

I will never regret my divorce–I’ve ended up with an incredible husband and two beautiful baby girls. But in divorcing, I signed up for a lifetime of phone calls from vacations I’m not on, of car doors closing as my boys leave, of never getting to celebrate Father’s Day for my father or husband with them present. It’s a lifetime of separations.

And all these separations have been, I now see, just a “forshpeis“–an appetizer–of things to come.

Jordana Horn

Jordana Horn is a contributing editor to Kveller. She is a journalist, lawyer, writer, mother of five (pregnant with her sixth), travel aficionado, and self-declared karaoke superstar. Before her life got too crazy, she was the New York correspondent for the Jerusalem Post. She has written for numerous publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Forward and Tablet. She has appeared as a 'parenting expert' on NBC's TODAY Show and FOX and Friends. She enjoys writing about herself in the third person and, one far-off day when everyone is in school, hopes to get back to work on her novel.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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