My five-year-old recently went to camp for the first time. Thankfully, my friend and neighbor allowed her five-year-old to attend as well, and although it was only day camp, I think we both had our doubts. Are the boys safe? Are they old enough? Amplifying my worry, I noticed one of our boys' counselors had braces! I’m only 33, but goodness, seeing that made me feel 65.
While I’m thankful we’re not at the point where overnight camp is an option, I’ve come to terms that with every milestone he encounters, there will be a huge tug in my heart that comes along with every new thing my son experiences. When the doors to the auditorium opened, and I watched him find his counselor (after running back a few times for hugs he knew I needed). As he bounced and danced with a friend, I left… and I drove away wondering if I was ready for all the “firsts” we will encounter over the next few years. (Insert tears here.)
How should we prepare for our children’s milestones, whether they be camp, school, graduation, or something else entirely? Don’t worry mama, here are tips for you…
Understand that motherhood is like continuing ed. Five years in, I’m still learning and evolving as a mom. Motherhood routinely tests your patience, your resilience, and your temperament. As your children grow and reach individual milestones, make sure to keep the dialogue open. Teach them as you learn, and stay open-minded – so you’ll learn from the change, too. Also, never allow your child’s age to trick you into thinking you cannot have a serious or profound conversation that benefits you both.
Kelly Ship, mother to 16-year-old Jackson says that prayer plays a big role in preparing for her son’s milestones. “Kevin and I both speak very honestly to him about the responsibility that comes with new freedoms,” she said. “I even made him sign a contract before he started driving.”
Banish worry and accept fear. Worry inhabits us when we dwell on what might happen. We’ve all been there: Will my child have friends at school? Who will sit with my child at lunch? Will the new teacher be firm, but also loving and kind?
These are legitimate concerns, but once worry takes over, the concerns become preoccupations that are more harmful than helpful. Fear, on the other hand, is great to have as a parent. Fearful impulses can protect our children from situations and people that may cause them danger.
Welcome change. Your child’s milestone means they’re entering a new stage of development that will affect the adult they’ll become. Welcome the growth and what you’ve taught them!
Marlena Rice is a busy mom and writer who lives in Tuscaloosa with her husband, Rod, and their son, Beaux William. Check out her blog at heartfullybuilt.com.