If you read this blog regularly, you have probably noticed that I tend to write about the crazy and sometimes embarrassing things that happen in my life. When such an experience begins to unfold, I find myself thinking about what insight I can gain. And because writing is my second favorite therapy (after chocolate, of course) I bring my insight to life with words. My children think I’m nutty and have started referring to these less than desirable experiences as “blogging opportunities.” Just recently, we had one such experience together.
This year, I was not emotionally ready for summer to end. In fact, I was desperate to squeeze in just a little bit more family togetherness. A camping trip is what I really wanted – but we just ran out of time. Mike suggested that we set aside a night for a family campfire. We could cook hot dogs and make s’mores and then drive home and sleep in our own beds. This sounded fun, but did not fully satisfy me. So I secretly harbored the intention to make a traditional camping trip happen.
Last weekend, I decided it was time. I found a replacement for the paper route. I made phone calls to cancel other engagements. I purchased delicious camping food. And then I told Mike how grateful I was that everything was coming together such that we could take the family camping. He expressed willingness, but also reservation. The first thing he had done was check the weather forecast. And do you know what it said?
Rain – in abundance.
But I know better than to rely on the weather forecast. You see, because my lawn fluctuates between being mostly dead and all dead, I religiously watch the weather forecast on my iphone, hoping for rain. But the last five or six rain cloud symbols had given way to dry, sunny days. I just didn’t believe in rain anymore nor did I want to let this trip slip through my fingers, so my I pressed forward with unscathed enthusiasm.
My hesitant, but ever-adventurous husband (bless his heart) packed up our suburban, our eight kiddos and one brave little neighbor girl, and we headed for the hills.
When we got to the campground, it was dry, but the sky looked ominous. Some people in camp trailers looked on in surprise and disbelief at the foolish parents of many small children who were cheerfully setting up camp before an impending storm.
We started a fire. We put up two tents, but before we finished the third, a marvelous lightning storm erupted directly above us. For safety, we huddled back into the suburban and watched the extraordinary firework display. Somewhere in the midst, the electrical storm gave way to impressive sheets of rain.
We were in the car for nearly an hour during which time it had grown dark. The deluge showed no sign of retreat, so we ate cold hot dogs and potato chips in the suburban before we made a run in the pouring rain for our assigned tents. We settled in and it rained all night long.
The rain slowed to a sprinkle just as we were waking up. Luckily, Mike had thought to put the firewood in the suburban, so we were able to get a fire going. And we spent the morning, roasting starbursts in the fire, running through the creek (we were already soaked, so what the heck!), hiking and exploring. After such a crazy night in which the kid’s tent almost floated away, I was actually surprised how much we were all enjoying ourselves.
I sat there and soaked in that very feeling for which I had been so desperate.
And I thought to myself at that moment that this feeling was worth all the craziness in life. This feeling was worth all the thunder and the lightening and the rain and the mud. This feeling was even worth all the laundry I’d have to do when I got home (which was a mountain, I assure you).
So many experiences in life are like this, or they can be. But so often we can’t see past the struggle and the difficulty to the underlying magic of life. We get to be alive. We get to have experience – firsthand experience. We aren’t just told about the difference between the sunshine and the rain. We get to feel it for ourselves.
And while my determination and inflexibility forced this experience on my whole family, it did not diminish the gift of agency. We could choose, if not the situation itself, how to respond to it. And I was just so thankful that my husband and kiddos chose to have a great time!
For the kids, this camping trip will go down in history as the “The Adventures of Crazy Mom.” But for me, I will always remember and be grateful for an adventurous husband and children who chose to find the fun when it might have been easier to complain.