There are some things that most people are clearly on one side or the other about:
- Chocolate or vanilla
- Shower or bath
- Pro-life or pro-choice
- Underwire or soft cup
- Bikinis or briefs
- Paper book or Kindle
- Angelina or Jennifer
Any guesses on which side I'm on for that last thing? Yeah...so I maintain that I bust my hump to pay a mortgage for that roof that's over my comfy bed, and when the question of camping comes to mind all I can think is "why on EARTH do people find such joy in pretending to be homeless, just for the fun of it??"
But they do, and that's fine...and for some reason those who have seen my face when I'm invited on a camping trip almost always say, "If you don't like camping it's because you've never been camping with US...it's soooooo fun!!"
I know there are some folks reading this who I've had that conversation with, so it's legit. After this past week/weekend I can tell you with certain authority: It's really NOT about the s'mores....it's about being a thousand percent thankful that the washer and dryer are fully functional when you get home and have to wash the 800 articles of clothing/blankets/pillowcases that you took with you. It's about attempting to create a bit of a memory for your kids, who at the end of an exhausted day, though they're slightly too old for it, squabble over who gets to lay in your arms in a lawn chair by the campfire, but not to let them enjoy it too much or be so comfortable that they'll ask to go again next weekend...because you know in your heart it just is NOT happening.
I've been camping exactly twice in the past 8 years. Both times I've been pregnant. I've concluded this MAY be the reason I'm not enjoying myself as much as everyone else. My alcohol intake is in direct opposite proportion to those around me....making my vigilance to ensure no child steps in deer poop higher than normal.
Was it fun? Yeah, it was. Were there issues? Yeah, there were. I made some important discoveries that I'll take with me going forward.
- I need to put more effort into finding a sunscreen that doesn't make my kids break out in a rash.
- Always use the handicap accessible shower. It's cleaner since it gets little use, and you can bend over without your butt touching anything. On the off chance that someone rolls up in a wheelchair and chews you out...well, don't worry, they won't.
- Taking a battery-powered white noise machine and Twilight Turtle really DO keep your kids feeling more like home and less likely to get up every five seconds saying they're scared. It's worth it.
- Camping in a group lessens the impact of forgetting major contents of your cooler back at home in the freezer. So does an incredibly prepared mother-in-law, who was a Campfire Girl, and thus can roast the shit out of a marshmallow.
- Remember that most state laws do not afford for "differences of opinion when interpreting tent assembly instructions" as legitimate grounds for divorce.
- No tent fits back in the bag it came with. Just buy a bigger bag.
Having a husband who makes a huge attempt at making things as easy as possible does help. A lot. So does being surrounded by family and/or friends who are easy to laugh with, share your sandwich bread with, and who always remember to pack the hammer that you forgot.
Hopefully I will save this list to reference next time we go camping, which will likely be no less than one year from now...when I'll have long forgotten about the not-so-great parts and only remember how....FUN it was.
I still can't fully say I don't feel at least slightly like I'm slapping actual homeless people in the face when I walk away from my perfectly good house to "try on" their life a few days at a whack....and that my failing at it is borne out of the choice to go home.
So. If you see me at a campground anytime soon please know this: I have probably been kidnapped and am being held against my will. My captor is likely armed and dangerous. Proceed accordingly.
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