I discovered a love of camping last year. This isn’t something I did growing up, but I wanted to give it to my children.
There is something magical about building a little homestead away from home. Finding the right spot to put the tent. Smoothing out the tarp, unrolling and positioning the tent and driving in the stakes. Listening to the kids run wild and find treasures. Making our little beds all cozy and warm. Gathering wood.
We hike, swim, eat and play. There are chores, but they seem so less mundane in this other world. Watching my boy start the fire. Smelling the sweet smoke and feeling it sting my eyes, as it seems to follow me wherever I sit. Marshmallow goo stuck on both of their faces they run around screaming until the woods embrace them and they find their calm again.
The boy whittles wood. The girl makes fairy houses and crowns.
We are alive. Connected.
Cuddling together in the tent the giggles start. They reposition themselves over and over and we laugh until our sides hurt. Then I read our special goodnight book, “Step Into the Night” by Joanne Ryder. We listen for the sounds outside the tent. Crickets. Water. People talking. Laughter. Campfires. Life.
I’ve never “really camped,” I’ve been told. Never having backpacked into the middle of nowhere. Never having felt the isolation and wonder of being alone in the woods. Someday. Maybe.
We always camp with and near another people. We can usually see our car. It’s not perfect.
Dad stays home. He hates camping and no amount of being sad and longing will change that. So we go without him. It makes me heartbroken that he will miss out on this time with our kids. It often brings me to tears, but it’s not changing. So, I except what is and we go without.
I get VERY grouchy during the packing. Preparing the meals, gathering all the clothes, camping gear and packing the car. It turns me into a crazy person running around yelling at the kids that WE WILL NOT GO IF YOU DON’T HELP. I stress about all the details and feel like canceling about 1,200 times during this part.
Once the car is packed and we get in, I can breathe. Calmness washes over me. We take our “on the road again” picture. We are a team. We talk, laugh and sing. Looking forward. Moving forward.
As I start planning our summer camping trips I can’t help but be excited. Leaving the daily school commute behind. Saying goodbye to just seeing my kids before and after school. No more rushing to karate class and yelling at them to get up in the morning.
I will yell. Get stressed out. Cry that they are driving me crazy. But I would not change our summers together for anything. They are not perfect, but they are ours. Only 61 days until school is out. I can’t wait.