Both my husband and I grew up camping in RVs with our families.
When we had our first baby we were super excited to take him camping, so when he was little we got a tent and camped in that.. a couple times.
Turns out that, even in our early twenties, we were not that outdoorsy; blame it on our upbringing.
We then graduated to a fairly posh 20-some foot RV trailer with bathroom, furnace, microwave..
Whatever. It still qualifies as camping.
I used to enjoy camping more, but as I've mentioned here (and through much of my blog) my body has become a bit of an oversensitive, uncooperative killjoy in the last few years. Uneven ground tries to make me fall and temperature extremes (so, +/- 10 degrees from room temperature 🙄) have immediate and negative impacts on my ability to walk – the outdoors isn't that much fun for me. Plus there's the marathon of grocery shopping and trailer loading beforehand, which leads to.. you've heard of the Spoon Theory? Yeah. So I use up all of my spoons (and then some) in the prep work and am a blob of useless by the time I even get to the part that's supposed to be fun.
Anyway, it became pretty obvious that if camping with our kids was still important to him, Mick needed to be willing to do more of the prep work and actual camping part. Like, most of it. Like, 100% of it.
(Gopher sprawled on the ground and reaching a paw forward dramatically with the caption 'go on without me' from https://icanhas.cheezburger.com)
I thought, "oh bummer, this sucks, I guess we'll have to just be okay with not being all together as a family.. I hope they'll be okay.. and nobody gets hurt.. what if they don't get any sleep? Is Mick going to remember to feed them? What if I get lonely?.."
Except the reality of it is, we have (I feel kind of bad to use the word..) better times separately than we had ever guessed we would.
I mean, yeah, I'm sad I'm missing out on some fun times but realistically.. I'm the mom. If I am there and part of it I will try to control it. It's what moms do.
(Plus I'm possibly a little more controlling than average, but whatever. I'm aware.)
So Mick and the kids, the 'fun' parent and his Mini-Mes (never mind one is taller than him now), go off on their own adventure and have a fantastic time without me.
Do they get completely filthy dirty? I'm sure. Do they all jump in the lake in their clothes? Of course they do. Do they completely ignore bedtimes? No doubt. Who knows or cares? NOT ME. Ignorance is bliss. Until their laundry gets home, and even then.. meh, acceptable price.
Fact is, getting to stay home with my own bed, electricity, running water, air conditioning, with no other humans to worry about for an entire weekend, turns out to actually be HEAVEN.
(Sarcastic Mommy understands)
It's glorious to have so much time to myself. To string my thoughts together.. without a single thought or worry about what another person will need from me within the.. entire weekend..
I didn't really grasp how much of a mental workload my family is until they weren't my responsibility for a couple days.
I found out that when left to my own devices:
– I get out of bed around 9am.
– I might do laundry and dishes or I might leave everything laying around because I'm not worried about setting a good example.
– I eat out a lot.
– I slightly miss my family.
– I like the silence.
– I talk to the dog, Pippa, a LOT; she stays with me because A, she has zero survival instinct and when she goes camping she actively tries to run off and get eaten by wildlife, and B…
– I like having a non-human companion because I get surprisingly freaked out at night when I'm alone.
I do help Mick beforehand with getting the kids and their stuff ready for camping, but he does the grocery shopping and meal planning. And go figure, the kids are incredible at helping him load the trailer…
In fact, I bet our kids suddenly don't have to snack constantly when they have only their dad around. Or they do, but they aren't yelling at him to get their snacks for them. And I bet they innately know their dad is highly unlikely to know or care which way they like their sandwich cut so they suddenly are more flexible with their preferences. I hear the youngest one will eat a hot dog on a bun for her dad – never even crossed my mind to try. With me she wants it perfectly heated and diced into teeny pieces, bun on the side, nothing touching. Camping with their dad, our oldest daughter has more responsibilities and is more helpful with her siblings. Sure, it's possible she's legitimately concerned for their survival, but whatever the motivation they fight less and play more without me there.
And Mick gets to be the only parent, Supreme Ruler for a weekend without my inconvenient, incessant opinions involving apparently minor details such as 'bedtime' and 'toothbrushes' and 'clean underwear'.
While I had the luxury to string more than a single thought together this last time my family went without me, I realized that if MS hadn't forced me to bow out of camping I probably would not have voluntarily given up the control of it. I mean, I'm not as young and amused by hard beds, bugs, not showering, and constantly sweeping floors as I used to be, but "for the sake of the kids and family memories" I would never have contemplated staying behind.
"Fiiiinne. You need me so I'll do it."
Turns out they do not need me at all. And also turns out I'm 100% fine with it. Woohoo!
Moral of the Story: Do not wait until you HAVE to, to let the 'fun' parent be the 'only' parent for a weekend.
Image is quote by Marcelene Cox: "A vacation frequently means that the family goes away for a rest, accompanied by a mother who sees that the others get it." (operative word: 'frequently' 😉)