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Running away from Hallmark (and the Smart-Aleck Facebook pictures)

May 13, 2013

I remember Mother’s Day four years ago distinctly.  My littlest was a mere 3 weeks or so old, my middlest was 2, and my oldest was not-quite, but almost 4.  I was exhausted.  This baby, this third born who was supposed to be the easiest, cried all the time.   Whether I held him or put him down, he screamed.  He refused to sleep more than a bit at a time.  I was exhausted and Mother’s Day seemed like a bit of a joke.  Mother’s Day?  A break?  A day off?  There was none for this weary mother who felt like she was always holding or feeding a crying baby.  I went in with no expectations whatsoever.

So maybe I don’t remember that Mother’s Day that distinctly.  I remember the events around it, but I don’t remember what actually happened on Mother’s Day.  I can tell you what didn’t happen.  I didn’t sleep in.  I didn’t take a nap.  I made two (maybe 3, or maybe we ordered out for the third) meals.  I changed many diapers.  I wasn’t pampered.  I didn’t have my love bucket filled.  I got some presents from the big two that they had made in school, which promptly got ruined by the other one (I do remember that.  I also remember thinking “This sums up my life right now.  The kids even destroy the Mother’s Day presents the other one made for me.”).  I was pitiful.

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Two years later, without realizing it, we organized a camping weekend trip with friends over Mother’s Day.  The littlest was already 2, my middlest was 4, and my oldest was not-quite, but almost 6.  The littlest refused to sleep, but we had a great time anyway.  Curtis made my Mother’s Day by getting up with Isaac when he woke up at 5:30 am.  He drove Isaac around until a reasonable hour (6:30 maybe?) when he returned to camp with a Starbucks coffee for all three of us mamas.

I was hooked.  I knew what I wanted every single year for Mother’s Day–a weekend camping trip.

DSC_8874When I say that, most people look at me like I’m nuts.  They hear I want to go camping and think, “How is that relaxing?”  How does that pamper me?  How does that give me a break?”  It is fabulous though. It’s a lot of work getting ready to go and lot of work unloading and doing all. that. laundry.  Once we get there though, wow.  Usually, the places we go don’t have great (any) cell phone service.  No one is working (on their paying job).  No one has a soccer game or baseball game or swim practice.  I don’t have to clean anything.  Curtis does most of the cooking and most of the meals are super easy.  Plus, we’re around each other all weekend.  We’re outside all weekend.  Curtis and I get to stay up after the kids finally are asleep and marvel at the stars and our incredible fire (that we started Saturday morning and lasted until we left late Sunday morning). we get to talk–not usually about work or schedules either, but what we’re reading or thinking about these days or memories from our childhoods.

DSC_8847For me, that’s Mother’s Day.  Once I stopped trying to make Mother’s Day into a Hallmark card, with perfect children standing around me being angelic and bringing me breakfast in bed and serenading me with music and lyrics they composed themselves, I was much happier.  On the flip side, I also stopped believing those pinterest and facebook lists that surface the week before Mother’s Day every year.

You know the ones I’m talking about, right?  The ones that talk about wanting to use the restroom in peace or for my husband to take the kids away from the house the moment they wake up and not have to see them all day long.  I realized I didn’t want.  True, just a week ago, I was telling Curtis all I wanted was a night when I didn’t have to put kids to bed or sleep in the same house of them or hear them when I wake up in the morning.  I don’t want that for Mother’s Day though.

For Mother’s Day, I want to remember why I love being mom.  I want to spend time with my family and remember how wonderful my children are.  I want to get gifts made at school, which the kids are so proud of making.  I want to be outside with my family and sleep in a tent with them. I want to smell smoky and teach my kids how to make a fire or roast a perfect marshmallow.  I want to have time with Curtis to talk about more about survival, which is our usual conversation.

That is why we go camping.  By the time we return home, after our traditional post-camping barbecue lunch on the way home, we are dirty and smelly, sometimes laden with bugs or bug bites  (I hate ticks!!).  We are also happy.  We are more relaxed going into the week.  We are more connected.  We are more of family.  What more could I ask for for Mother’s Day?

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. jeffanddavene permalink
    May 13, 2013 10:43 pm

    I loved reading about your Mother’s Day traditions. That’s what it’s all about: discovering what bonds the hearts of your family together, which doesn’t usually look the same as what works for the family down the street (or the friend on Facebook!). 😉 I applaud you for finding that and holding to that!

    On a practical note, if our Virginia weather ever warms up, we are hoping to do some camping this summer. Jeff and I used to camp before we had kids, but have done very little of it since then. Do you have any must-do suggestions for us novices?? 🙂

    • May 14, 2013 12:24 pm

      Davene–A couple things I’ve done that has helped a lot: 1) Make a list on the computer of everything you need–gear, food, everything. Take it with you and update it as you find things you need or things you didn’t need and edit it for next time. 2) Pack clothes in a laundry basket and stack it inside an empty laundry basket. As clothes get dirty, just put them in the empty laundry basket. That way you won’t really need to sort through clothes when you get home (and the stinky clothes won’t make the clean clothes dirty).

      A family we met this past weekend, also took an extra tent to put all their stuff in—one tent they slept in and the other tent they stored their clothes/books/journals/etc in. We thought that was brilliant (but probably won’t do it because we don’t have an extra tent). I also try to take journals and colored pencils/crayons for kids–it helps settle them down at night or gives them something to do if you are just hanging out around the campsite. I also take a ton of clothes because my kids are constantly muddy and wet (and stay that way until they decide they have to change).

      Other than that, go with no expectations and be flexible. I’m sure your family will have a blast! I love Virginia camping. 🙂

  2. Ruth permalink
    May 14, 2013 8:17 am

    Beautiful, Melani.

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