On Holding My Kids With Open Hands

summer camp

I was going to title this post Liar, Liar Pants on Fire except I then realized I already had a post titled that. So that might be something to look into with a therapist.

A few weeks ago I celebrated the fact that my kids were growing up and how awesome it was and how I was ok with that. And I am. I guess. I mean I love the ages that my kids are at and the fact that there aren’t any more diapers to change or sleepless nights due to teething or inability to do anything without a chorus of “mommy, mommy, mommy!!”

But. BUT. Last week I dropped off Lily for her first ever overnight camp. Actually her first overnight anything outside of an occasional sleepover at Grandma’s house. It was just her and I driving the hour and a half to camp. We had some great talks, great unexpected adventures and great bonding on the way up. That was a gift in itself.

We got to camp and I surveyed the place my daughter would be for four days. The warmth in which her counselors greeted us put me at ease. Seeing her cabin decorated with tulle and Christmas tree lights and a princess theme was even better. Lily clinging to me as I turned to leave and asking me to stay just a little longer? Well I was so close to packing her back up in the car and making a run for it.

She wanted to be there. Ten seconds later she was settling into her bunk bed (BUNK BEDS!!) and chatting away with her new found cabin mates. And I was slowly walking up the hill and towards my car where I would drive away from my BABY for the next four days.

I missed her terribly. It felt like a limb was missing. I discovered one of my friends was the camp nurse and texted her and stalked her Facebook page. Suddenly I was the helicopter parent I despise and I didn’t care one. little. bit.

When we picked her up, there was a big final event and as the kids filed in I swore to my husband that she had grown up 4 years in those 4 days. She jumped in to my arms and wrapped her arms (and legs) around me and I knew that however hard it might have been for me (and maybe a little on her) this moving towards the next stage is important.

I went to see Brave last week (disclosure: I was given free tickets. I loved the movie but am not going to give a full review, nor was I asked to. For a great review check out Impress Your Kids) and took Lily with me. I reached for her hand a million times during the movie. Thrilled that she would still hold my hand without and ounce of embarrassment.


My heart hurt during the scenes between the mother and daughter. Missing each other along the way. Misunderstanding one’s need for freedom and another’s need to hold on tight and help her daughter be exactly who the mom thought she should be. In my humble opinion it is an amazing conversation starter for moms and their older daughters (it is rather scary for younger kids in my humble opinion).

I am in the sweet spot of parenthood with her right now. She is old enough to do a lot of things herself. But she still needs me in all the cool ways. She wants to be around me and aside from an occasional eye roll, seems to think I am pretty cool.

As she gets older and all my kids get older I realize more and more that I have two choices as their mother. I can hold them with a tight fist. Or I can hold them with an open hand (and I realize it isn’t black and white like that but roll with me). My fingers aren’t easy to pry open. But I am trying. And I am loving the kids my kids are becoming. Despite myself.


  1. Mmmmm K… So I remembered you from Coke and our group but I was so shocked to see you have kids as old as you do. You don’t look old enough to have no kids in diapers.

    Secondly, this was so sweet and made me so sad. Time is already flying with my first and I can’t imagine her going away to camp for four nights… ahhh!

    You are such a great mom. Your children are so lucky to have you!

  2. Beautiful Jill!

    Completely agree on Brave…so glad you have it to watch and discuss with your “baby.” And I love this…and will remember it as we start moving into the phase…’the sweet spot of parenthood.’ Can we just stay here forever? Please?


  3. I felt the same way during that movie….as I held my daughter’s hand. Such a great age. I hope it lasts a while.
    Sarah @ Sarah’s Deals recently posted…Target: $3.29 Polly Pocket Sets wyb 2 After Coupon!My Profile

  4. It is a sweet spot. I’m hanging on as long as I can :)
    Jen @ BigBinder recently posted…Brave Movie Review {Is It OK For Young Kids?}My Profile

  5. Mags can’t wait for me to take her to Brave, but I’m afraid I’m going to lose it with all the mother/daughter stuff. It is a sweet spot right now, but at times it takes my breath away. She curled up in my lap today at the doctor’s office, and didn’t really fit. Getting so big!
    Kathy @ House of Hills recently posted…Mags the Film ProducerMy Profile

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