Every year, my daughter’s daycare does 2 field trips – one to go sugaring off in the spring, and one to go either apple or pumpkin picking in the fall. Including my son’s stint at daycare, there have now been 10 trips in all. And up until this past Friday, I’d gone on every single one.
I used to love going with my son – we’d sit together on the bus and enjoy a great day out. I’m sure it was helpful for the teachers to have a few extra sets of hands and eyes around and I’m fortunate enough that my place of work allows for one Volunteer day per year.
This past fall was the first time I went with just my daughter, the boy having already started kindergarten. It was nice, but truth be told, she just wasn’t interested in having me around.
On the bus there, she wanted to sit with her teacher, and on the bus ride home she sat with her friend. My first reaction was Great! A seat to myself! A 30 minute nap! But there’s always that one kid whose parent didn’t come who’s desperate for an adult to cling to. I was a clear target.
And even at the apple orchard, she showed little interest in spending time with me. I shouldn’t have been surprised – she’s a social butterfly, that one. My son, the quiet one, was always happy to hang back and hang out with mom, but the girl? Forget about it. There’s dancing to be done! Apples to be picked! Friends to play with!
So when the sugaring off trip rolled around this spring, I didn’t sign up to go. I just changed departments at work and the timing wasn’t really right to be taking a day off. And I reminded myself of how invisible I was on the last trip. Throw in the fact that they went during Passover, and it was a no-brainer.
I didn’t go.
Of course, on the day, I felt miserable. My mind kept wandering to what might be going on at the sugar shack. I remembered the way she danced around the large recreation hall last time, big smiles on her face as she absorbed the music into her very bones.
But then I remembered who she was, and how she is, and realized that I can’t repeat the same experiences I had with my son with her. I’ve got to appreciate her for who she is, and who she is is one very independent little girl.
If anyone had told me 2.5 years ago that one day she’d have a life that didn’t include me at every single turn, I’d have thought them crazy, but now, some weekends, I can go for hours at a time without seeing her – even when we’re in the same house!
So that day, sitting at my desk in my office, I made a promise to myself that I’d let go. That I’d pick her up from school, ask her how the trip went without one lament of how I wish I’d gone. I would respect her need to venture out into the world on her own, and I’d have to satisfy myself with her recounting her experiences of the day without having lived them myself.
And I did. I picked her up, gave her a huge hug and asked her about her trip. She smiled, told me how great it was, looked me in the eye and said -
“But Mommy, next time, will you come with me?”
[photo by Eva Blue]