Four days ago, I waited in a huge parking lot for my daughter to return from her three weeks at summer camp. There had to be a few hundred parents there, waiting, like me, for the buses to come rolling in. Looking around, I noticed a few things. First, I’m probably at least a good fifteen years older than the average parent I saw there. No big deal- we started our family on the late side.

Second, just about every person I saw was huddled into small groups, chatting and laughing away. I began to wonder how all these people could possibly have known one, two or even more parents. I strained to find someone I might know as well, but came up empty.

For three weeks, I worried how my daughter would fit in at camp. With her severe ADHD and other issues, life is often tough for her. I had flashbacks of my own youth and how I, too, didn’t fit in. I was incredibly shy and anxious and had undiagnosed ADHD. That’s quite a challenge when trying to make friends, let alone keeping them.

The flashbacks continued- not being asked to the prom; always being on the edge of social activities, watching as the other kids laughed, thriving in group activities. Instead, I was the one on the outside looking in. I found more pleasure in playing guitar and making art than going to football games on Friday nights. The feelings became more intense as the memories washed over me. The girl- now a grown woman- who didn’t fit in was waiting for the daughter who didn’t fit in.

The bus carrying my daughter finally arrived. When she raced down the steps of the bus into my arms, all those feelings melted away. I was no longer 12 or 16 years old. I was a grown woman who feasted her eyes on a smiling girl who obviously had a grand three weeks at camp, making new friends and exploring new skills. I grabbed my daughter, kissed and hugged her, and walked proudly out of the crowd. I realized just then that I, too, had grown over the years. I had accomplished many things and gained many skills, just like my daughter. The only difference, I suppose, is I did so in a quieter way than the crowd before me.