Every summer, I try to build up enough momentum to go camping with the kids. A group of families from the kids’ school go camping together, with comraderie and nature appreciation reputedly high. It’s a perfect opportunity.
My husband, a seasoned and hardy camper, doesn’t want to go. Or rather, he doesn’t want to go with me. He suspects that I will be uncomfortable and unhappy, and experience suggests that means he will be uncomfortable and unhappy.
Still I push for it because I lack self-knowledge it’s supposed to be so fun, so Canadian, so great for kids! Elisa’s camping exploits make me think maybe I can do it too! And I fall for the romance of camping, lulled by its siren call, and always feel a little inadequate that we don’t go.
And this, in spite of having ready and sometimes exclusive access to my in-laws’ positively stunning cottage on an island in Georgian Bay. It is so ruggedly beautiful there, I honestly can’t imagine anything better. The children have free run of the place, usually with a gaggle of cousins and friends. It’s a ton of fun, so Canadian, and so great for kids.
Yet, even with this amazing privilege of cottage access, I struggle with the reality of not wanting to camp. That is, until this summer. From our cottage’s huge windows I watched the rain with a guilty thrill of self-preservation as it poured for hours and hours on a day I knew my friends were camping. One friend’s child broke a collarbone horsing around in the tent – she later confessed that their hours in the emergency hospital room were a welcome break from the pounding rain.
I was so thoroughly glad I wasn’t there, so glad my reality won out over romance: I hate camping.
I don’t want to live and not-sleep in a small triangular tarp. I don’t want to swelter during the daytime and shiver at night. I don’t want to be fodder for mosquitoes and other critters, and I don’t want to eat rehydrated product from MEC. I don’t want to carry heavy packs and – oh, please – I don’t want to carry upside-down boats. I really, really don’t want to sleep on the ground. I’m a brown-skinned immigrant – we spend our whole lives trying to get off the damn ground.
Unlike Nathalie, who knows and embraces her distaste of camping, and Kelly Quinn, who knows even glamping can go wrong, I might find myself one day camping with my family because I fall for romance, and romance says it’s so fun, so Canadian, so good for kids! That is, if my husband, in a weak moment, agrees to go with me.
But really it would be better if he doesn’t agree, and I don’t go. Because wanting to be the mom who wants to go camping does not a mom who wants to go camping make. Because there are other ways to love the outdoors, and make wonderful memories with your kids.
But especially because I’m gonna hate it.
This post first appeared on Plenty in August 2016.