I suppose a large part of parenting is about putting your own needs aside to do what is necessary for your children. That’s why it took me a while to get my head around the idea of being a parent – it just didn’t sound as much fun as putting your own needs first.
But now that I am a parent, sacrifices need to be made. That is why I am taking a deep breath as I prepare to go camping for the weekend. I am fully aware that around the world there are parents making bigger sacrifices for their kids: giving up careers to look after them, working every hour of the day to fund their child’s education, or even starving so their children can eat. And I’ll admit two nights in a tent isn’t quite up there; but it is still a big deal for me.
I know camping is something that many people choose to do for pleasure, but I’m just not one of them. Mostly this is because if I had to write a list of the things that were most important to me, up somewhere near the top, just below my family, would be my bed and my morning cup of tea. Stanchion is not like this. Not only does he not see camping as a hardship, but he actually enjoys it. He has bought me an airbed and promised to make me a cup of tea as soon as I wake up. So I’m going.
We took Quibble camping when he was two. There were four couples, each with a child. It rained. A lot. And the kids loved it. They loved the tents, they loved the muddy puddles, they loved being outdoors and running (relatively) wild. There’s something about the slight anarchy of camping, where the rules are relaxed and everything is an adventure, that appeals to children.
And the thing I didn’t understand before I had children was the way seeing your child happy, makes you happy. It’s fun to see them having fun. It’s even better when you embrace your inner child and join them jumping up and down in muddy puddles.
So this weekend, while I may spend a lot of time huddled under blankets trying to keep warm or wearing head-to-toe waterproofs, I will get to see Quibble and Squeak playing and laughing with the other children. And I know I will end up laughing with them. If the price for all this laughter is a couple of nights without a real bed, I think that’s okay. I just wish there wasn’t so much rain forecast.