Letting Go

As most of you know from my sentimental Facebook posts, we dropped Landry off at Camp Cho-Yeh yesterday. For six days, she will be camper in the piney woods of East Texas; she will make new friends, sing silly songs, get really dirty, all while learning more about Jesus Christ and His crazy-big love for her. Sounds like a fantastic way for a 10-year-old to spend a week of Summer.

We were well-prepared for the camp drop-off procedures not just because Barbie works there but because Cho-Yeh has been superb in their communication and preparation with parents. As we dropped off her trunk, and she got signed in (complete with temperature and lice check!), I tried not to think about what was coming--the saying good-bye part. We felt a bit like celebrities when people realized who we were, "You're the Bailey Family! You're Barbie's Bailey Family! We feel like we know you!" It made me so grateful to God. Landry wouldn't be at Camp Cho-Yeh if it weren't for Barbie because we only learned about it when she started working there as a counselor. After visiting last summer and meeting some of the staff, and Barbie telling Landry ALL about it, we felt God opening the door for this opportunity, and we know Landry's life is going to be changed by it. HE JUST ROCKS that way.

We walked Landry to her cabin, met her counselors (one is an Aggie--it's a sign...), and helped her make her bed. She changed into her bathing suit, and she wanted to go down to the lake. It was "free time" while everyone arrived and got signed in, so the kids could pick their activity while the parents were gently nudged away. Landry wanted us to walk with her to the lake, so I said SURE! Jason whispered to me as we were walking, "We are going to have to say good-bye soon. It's time to let her go."  "I know. But not yet," I whispered back. I felt the lump become more solid in the back of my throat. I could tell there were many parents who were having a hard time letting go like me. They stood up by the dining hall and watched their kids propel themselves into the lake.

Landry got fitted for her life jacked, and after a picture and some really long hugs, she was running toward the lake without looking back.

We walked up to the dinning hall to stand with the other lurking parents, and I could feel myself coming undone. "Not here," I thought, "Don't lose it here."  I stood and watched Landry tentatively stand in a line to jump on the blob in the middle of the lake. The last thing I saw was her bouncing high into the air and landing in the water. "Come on," Jason urged. "It's time for us to go."

"Just wait. I have to see her come out of the water. I have to know that she's okay."

And then I saw her curls emerge from the water as she made her way back to the line for another turn. It was time to let go.

We made it back to the car before the lump in my throat let loose. Six days without her hugs; six days without her smile; six days of NOT KNOWING. And my tears began to fall.

We popped in the "Cho to Go" CD that they gave us as we left camp. It had interviews with the camp's president and Landry's counselors. As I listened to those strong voices talking about what an awesome week this was going to be in the life of our camper, I realized that this is the way it's suppose to be.

Being a parent is all about moments like this--the letting go ones. We hold so tightly to our kids--serenading their childhoods with our Watch out!s, Be careful!s, and Don't do that!s--just praying that some of our warnings will stick. When we do have to release our grasp, we pray fervently that they will know how to fly...safely--without too much damage to their fragile wings.

I know I'm not the first Mom to drop her kid off at camp. But if this experience was any indication, I will need tranquilizers when Landry leaves for college (poor Jason). So when Landry returns from her six days of freedom, I will enjoy every moment of this sweet season in our busy lives--the dance lessons, the softball practices, the spelling tests, the "Mom, I need you!"s because I know what's coming...college. And that lasts a lot longer than six days.

I didn't sleep well last night because I kept dreaming about Landry. Is she okay? Is she making friends easily? Is she feeling homesick? I woke up this morning to find her sweet smile on the Camp Cho-Yeh Facebook page (God bless social media).

It was God's way of saying, "She's okay, Amianne. Let her go. I've got her."


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