Kaylee and Nick are in Petrolia, halfway through a seven-day drama camp in the woods, just up from the Mattole River. The gorgeous location and happy vibe didn’t prevent a short outburst of tears after saying goodbye. Within moments of driving away, the emotional wallop of leaving my kids had me reeling. The shock passed quickly, replaced by the certainty that I was doing the right thing, but the sadness of missing them has stayed. They’ve had a gazillion sleepovers, but never been so far, for so long. I know camp in Petrolia barely counts as gone, as distant, but still, I feel adrift. I have always loved the times I have the house to myself, but this is different. The sense that something is missing distracts me from the pleasure of being alone.

Meanwhile Chelsea is off at Ruth Lake. Because she is older and has experienced more adventure, I don’t fret the same way I do about the younger two… but I know her outer toughness sometimes hides a tender heart, so I worry about her for different reasons. I hope she doesn’t put so much effort into being her tough, cool, individual self that she forgets to make friends. I worry she’ll feign disinterest rather than chance trying something she’s not automatically good at. (“I’m not like that, Mom!” I can hear her saying at me, exasperated.) I hope being out of her element excites her, expands her. I hope she comes back glowing and exhausted from all the fun.