Son’s Trip Benefits Worrying Mom

When I got the letter in May, my heart sank. I didn’t get a spot. I had wanted to chaperone the two-night field trip that my son would be taking this week. He admitted he couldn’t wait to go without me. My heart sank a little more. My baby, OK my oldest, was growing up. As much as I needed him to need me, he just didn’t.

I think mothers and fathers differ greatly in how much they worry about their kids. In some families maybe the dad does all the worrying. But I think there must be some balance. One parent has to worry so the other can have some sense of reason. The other can say, “It doesn’t matter how many hours you obsess over pajamas. He isn’t going to wear them.”

In our family, I am that worrier. For the past five months, I have worried about everything from my child falling off the mountain his class will be hiking on to not drinking enough water. In some sort of cruel, maternal way, I worry that my son will miss me.

I have lost sleep over things that could go wrong, causing migraines and stomach issues. The chaperones will keep an eye on my son. I know them. They are great parents, but they’re not me. But I have to trust my son and let him go. Despite a few jitters, he’s ready for this even if I’m not.

My son has always been the kind of kid who jumps into things when he’s ready and not a moment sooner. I try to remind him about all the things I won’t be able to when I’m not there—use your manners, change your underwear—but I shouldn’t overwhelm him. My gut says to back off. I know if he forgets, it’s not the end of the world. This independence will be good for him, boost his confidence. On the parenting scale of free-range to helicopter, I find I’m pushing myself more to the middle these days and this trip will benefit me too.camp gear

My husband will start to think about packing the bag days before. I have been thinking about it for two months, worrying about the best way to pack three outfits, sweatshirts, gloves, extra shoes, a pillow, a sleeping bag, sheet, and just extras in a way that my son can carry them from bus to lodge in one load. I’ve always been a planner.

I won’t be able to drop my son off at school the morning of the trip. Even though I’ve been preparing him for this independence, I haven’t really prepared myself. I can only put my brave face on for a short time before I turn back into Mom at the stroke of 7 a.m., and I don’t want him to see that: a quivering lip, me lingering for too long, turning back for just one more hug.

I’m proud of him. Some kids won’t go without their parents. He’s a little nervous, mostly excited. I know he’ll have a great time.

I’m embarrassed of me. I won’t sleep. I’ll worry every second. And when he gets off the bus brimming with details of the trip, I’ll tear up in relief. I’ll shed the worry like a heavy coat.

My months of worry will have been for nothing. But for both of us, it will have been a practice run for the many more times I’ll have to let him go.

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20 Comments

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20 responses to “Son’s Trip Benefits Worrying Mom

  1. When my son went to Florida for ten (!) days with his grandparents this past summer, I felt all of these anxieties too. My mantra for that time he was gone was “I can’t keep him from doing something, if the only real reason is because I’ll miss him.” Maybe that would help you too. Hugs! He will have a blast!!

    • I know. And I feel good for even letting him do it. He sleeps at friends’ houses. But this just feels different. I went on his trip last year so I know what it’s like for the most part, and I know he can do it. I think he’ll have tons of fun. He has started to get nervous though. That doesn’t make it easy for me!

      • I bet. I think the traveling makes it harder. Staying the night at a friend’s house is no big deal, but going halfway across the country (even with grandparents) had me a wreck, even though he did just fine!

  2. I can SO relate to this. I am the worrier in this family, for sure. Hang in there momma! 🙂

  3. I would be exactly the same way!

  4. K. Eley

    I can relate! My husband and I both worry when my daughter is away; mostly my husband. The first time is always the hardest. It gets easier. 🙂

  5. As soon as you said, “chaperone the two-night field trip”, I knew I was a bad mom. Because wild horses couldn’t drag me to such an event – even for my darling daughter. After 23 years of teaching and chaperoning, I have drawn the line at over-nighters!

    • You’re not a bad mom. I think after 23 years, I’d draw the line too! But I do have to say that we really do have a great group of kids and parents. If not, he wouldn’t be going without me! Next year, I get to go with my daughter on her first one. I’m not off the hook yet.

  6. Yikes! Letting go is sooo scary! I’m the worrier in our family also and at this point sleepovers give me pause! I love how you framed this trip as an event good for both of you. And I’m impressed your hubby would start thinking about packing days in advance! Mine would be packing that morning! I’ll look forward to hearing the recap upon your son’s return! Until then, here’s to trust and deep breathing!

    • My husband used to go to summer camp every year so he knew what to pack and how. He just didn’t spend all the time worrying about it that I did. Hopefully, there won’t be much to say when my son gets home except that we survived!

  7. Oh I remember this – when my son was still in primary school he went on his first excursion for a week way up north. My husband and I dropped him off at the bus, waved him goodbye and I sobbed all the way home!

  8. I’ve been crying for the last two weeks because my son’s having difficulty getting along with his teachers. He’s a questioner and an instigator. While trying to discipline him, I think I pushed the limit. I’m trying to get over it. My husband’s perfectly fine.

    • Yes, sometimes I wish I had that ability. I feel way too much! My son was gone two nights and I emailed a few parents asking if they had heard anything. It was hard not hearing a word for three days! I don’t think my husband thought about it at all. And the funny thing, I don’t think my son thought about us either. Males.

  9. I have a 7 month old son. I just read this, and I’m crying uncontrollably. I’m not even in your shoes yet, and I can understand you perfectly. Please know that your feelings are completely normal, and they mean you are a terrific mother. Thank you for writing this. Reassurance for me, as well.

    • Well, there’s good news! We both survived. My son seems to have not thought about me the entire time, which is how I wanted it. I emailed anyone I could think of to ask whether they knew anything and heard little bits like, “He’s having a great time.” That’s it. Not hearing from him for a few days was really hard but I got through that first time. And next year, he does it all over again! And he doesn’t want me to go with him. So, progress. Success. I did it. 😉

  10. I cry a bit when my kids find a new independence level (like spending several days away at a grandparents), but I’m mostly fine with it. It’s nice to get a break every once-in-a-while — I need one too!

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