Thursday, May 24, 2012

lessons in humility, acceptance and not being a moron



Yesterday at dinner time we decided to go camping. Spontaneously! With twins!  Never mind our carefully constructed routine or the fact that the girls had already had a wildly exciting day and hadn't napped or that it was dinner time or that we have 18 month old toddlers who have never been camping or that the campsite was an hour's drive away and it was rush hour or that it was just a stupid idea, we were being spontaneous!


Summer arrived in the UK yesterday. More dramatically still, summer arrived in Glasgow. I can't tell you how long it's been since we had summer, roughly 3 years maybe? And I can't tell you how much we have missed camping, it's something that we love and that we couldn't wait to do with the girls. Never mind people's raised eyebrows, we were going to be Cool Family That Doesn't Bat An Eyelid at Camping With Toddlers. Spontaneously. 

Well we hadn't reckoned on Amelia. Which was silly, as we've had 18 months to come to terms with Amelia, 18 months which has mostly been spent figuring out what she needs to happen for her to go to sleep at night. What she needs does not include a spontaneous camping trip that starts at dinner time. Girl LOVED the campsite, LOVED the tent, LOVED the food and the wild and the trees and the horses and the wigwams at the campsite. Girl loved them so much that there was no way in hell she was ever ever going to go to sleep despite the fact that she was falling flat on her face with tiredness. We thought that eventually, when she was tired enough, she would join the rest of us in our cosy pile of limbs and sleeping bags (Ella, after ten minutes of trying out different corners of the tent, settled happily in her daddy's armpit and started nodding off to sleep.) But an hour later she was not only ricocheting off the sides of the tent, she was screaming too. Which kind of sucked for the other campers who had travelled from Belgium and America to walk the West Highland Way and were getting up in the morning to continue their 96 mile trek. 

So we packed up and came home. Which was embarrassing. I'd thought that we were so damn cool, camping with our kiddos, we were one of those families who other families admire and think 'wow, they're so carefree, they haven't let having kids stop them from having adventures'. In other words I was a smug, self-congratulating  moron. 

The thing is, I've never once felt like we have let having kids stop us from having adventures, I had just become fixated on the idea that camping had to be one of them. Camping was my status adventure, the one I would take beautiful pictures of and blog about and bask in the congratulations of my readers for being So Cool (I know, I know, I hate myself too).


Despite the embarrassment of packing up and coming home I'm actually really glad that we went, for a few reasons. One, until we tried to go to sleep we had so much fun, in fact I don't think that the girls have ever had more fun in their lives. Watching them rampaging and exploring was one of my happiest moments as a parent. Oh and Ella called out for Ammie when she couldn't see her around the side of the tent, 'Me Moo? Meeee Moo?' and my heart exploded with love. Two, we realllllllly needed to break out of our routine, do something that was neither work or agonising over selling our house, which is pretty much all we've done for a month. But thirdly, and most importantly, I learnt some lessons in humility (see above) and acceptance.  Accepting that one of our children just doesn't deal with huge amounts of change and excitement as well as I might like and that it's our responsibility to look out for her and not to throw her things she can't deal with just because we think that if they worked out they would be really fun. I've always thought that we had accepted that Amelia is just slightly harder work than Ella (most of the time, Ella has her moments, her 'exorcist moments' as I like to think of them) but I feel like yesterday was one of those eye-opening moments when you realise that you still had a little way to go before you were quite the person/parent/whatever that you wanted to be and that you might have just made it a step closer. Which is kind of cool. 












(our camping bible - maybe this face should have been a warning - rocking the neon trend - exploring - the builder - "hullo, buh bye" - 10pm, an escapee - Going Home.) 





47 comments:

  1. Oh bless, how lovely and final point being you never know until you try! x

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  2. I love that you even thought of it, though. Spontaneous camping sounds brilliant, whether it worked out or not. You guys make being a parent seem a bit more, I don't know, kind of... doable. Fun, even. Which is kind of cool.

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    1. being a parent *is* fun, in fact 'fun' is always the first thing I say when people ask how it is. Followed by 'and bloody tiring.'

      I don't know why more people aren't shouting about how fun it is?

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  3. I love their little sandals. & that first picture is amazaballz. I think sometimes you gotta try, Cara, and good on you for doing that, because otherwise you'd never know for certain. I think you're an amazing parent. And look! Curls. Sorry I keep getting distracted by how adorable your girls are. x

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    1. aren't their sandals the best? And the curls kill me every day.

      And thank you. x

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  4. Last time we went camping, it was the start of June, and Richard had to get up in the middle of the night to buy some logs (it was a fancy tent with a woodburner) because it was SO DAMN COLD. Then we had to drive home the next day for blankets. It was bloody brilliant though.

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    1. camping is brilliant, even when it's cold and the food sucks and you get bitten by insects.

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    2. Oh the food was eaten by mice.

      Off to Glenelg to roast in a tent on Sat, looking forward to it, genuinely.

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    3. jelly jelly jealous. (genuinely)

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  5. oh my, THAT face!
    ABORT MISSION. we've all done it, no shame in that.
    and you guys are the best, just sayin'.

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  6. Hey, at least you tried. And you guys are the cool parents, whether camping worked out all night or not.

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  7. We find ourselves in situations like that all the time. I always think that we're the only ones. But yeah, we need to keep trying, I guess? It will eventually work. Next year, I'm sure camping will work.

    And I have SO MUCH empathy for the "agonizing over selling your house" situation, for it literally blindsided me not so long ago, and lasted for five months. But chicken, it will get better. I can tell you now (again), how great and worth it the other side is.

    Lub you!

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    1. Lub you too lady. It helps to know that we're not the only ones. With either the ridiculous child-related situations or the house situation.

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  8. Ok. Two things.

    A) I am in love with the grumpy face picture.

    B) That is the exact face I might make as an ADULT if someone attempted to take me camping.

    Also, you're a really good mom. And I kind of love you. I guess that's really FOUR things.

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    Replies
    1. I make that face a lot.

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    2. Naurnie nailed it. Ditto all of that.

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    3. You are mad, camping is the best.

      Also, thank you.

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  9. You are so wonderful and adventurous for even trying! What a great story (and will be great funny memory forever :)

    It sucks to feel "stuck" by stress. My number one priority right now is supposed to be saving every single penny, paying off debt. But I am the WORST. I just bought tix to the coney island mermaid parade ball, because I've been wanting to go for years and I just had to DO it!!

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    Replies
    1. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. Coney Island is an excellent place to throw away the last of your money, I'd do it too if I were closer.

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  10. The faces! You'll go again in a year or two and it will be splendid. The really cool parents figure out what works and do it. Including going home.

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  11. Oh bless... I love that you guys went and you can see that there was the fun in it. (And I adore that wing mirror pic!!)

    My Dad always tells the story of taking me to the cinema to see ET when I'm a toddler... I basically screamed the place down after the first 5 minutes and he had to bundle me out of there! Strangely I've always felt rather proud that he tried... so I'm imagining that your girls will love this story so much when they're older x

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  12. Oh, Ammie! That face cracked me up.

    I'm glad you attempted it, even if you had to pack up early. Maybe you can camp in the living room instead?

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  13. We went with our eight month old last weekend. And as fun as it was, I was exhausted by the end of it. The nights were colder than expected, dipping into freezing and I slept with Zoe IN MY SLEEPING BAG. There was intermittent screaming when she wanted to reposition and nursing through the night to stop the screaming. We do not co-sleep so this was a bit of joy mixed with hell for me. She seemed to sleep fine, I was a wreck. But adventure on we did and I am assuming that it gets better with time.

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  14. LOve that face in the second photo! glad you still had a great time breaking out of the norm!summer might be finished by the time i arrive in july!

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  15. Oh they are sooo cute. And you are *the* cool parents. I think that it will be lots of fun when they are a little bit older. But I am glad they were so happy before the change of routine freaked out little Amelia.
    And this still counts as an adventure !

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  16. I love that you did this. I love that you tried. And I also love that your girls got to experience all the best bits of camping. We've camped with our little ones but not with all three...yet. We were supposed to have a summer camping adventure for four whole weeks. Then we made a bit of extra holiday fund money and booked gites instead. Oh the relief we both felt when we finally admitted that Max is too little for camping this year, especially a whole month of it.
    There is so much time ahead for camping adventures. Hooray!
    Enjoy the sunshine xx

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    1. There is such relief in admitting to yourself that you can't do something that seems a bit overwhelming, isn't there? And thank you, you give me faith that in the future we will have wonderful family camping trips.

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  17. Happy summer, meeee mooooos and all.

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  18. Summer! Yeah! (my mum said 27C in Glasgow?!! holy hell)
    I too love the fact that you tried. In fact, that you tried *and* were flexible enough to change the parts of the plan that weren't working (like sleeping) totally inspires me.

    Plus - that last pic doesn't look like the end to a failed camping trip but rather the end to an amazing evening outdoors adventure. Same diff.

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  19. Good for you guys!!! I love the idea of a spontaneous camping trip :]

    Oh how I'm longing to go camping soon... I think spending some time in the great outdoors is just good for the soul, no matter how big or small!

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  20. But you DO have the great photos!

    I love your adventures. And their sandals.

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    1. The sandals are brilliant, aren't they?! I want them in my size.

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  21. Spontaneous camping sounds so cool, and the rest just makes you seem cool (not everyone would have said it went wrong, or what they learned so you are cool for doing so).

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  22. We love camping, and couldn't wait to share that joy with our littluns, but I think they were like six and seven the first time we set off to the Dordogne.
    We still saw those faces. Sometimes. But it got better and better. And we never got gorgeous photos like these. :-)

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  23. Me moo. It was worth the trip just for that.

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  24. Man, I freaking love this post. I can totally relate to the desire to be the Cool Parents. I can also relate to the desire to continue doing things that you love (eg camping). Finally, I can TOTALLY relate to the failed mission due to the kid. Happens here with reasonable frequency. Thanks for sharing.

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  25. We were fanatical about getting our son into a routine when he was younger. It worked perfectly. Then we decided to go camping and like yours, he loved the experience but didn't love the messed up routine. We were all tired and irritable and decided to come home early. Lesson learned. Try again when older/wiser/more laid back.

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  26. i love this for so many reasons. i especially love hearing you discuss the differences in the two. i always quote your post for us on h&l when i am discussing the fact that before henry came, i thought there was more to the nurture side of things. like he would just be easy going if we taught him to be. ha! it also reminds me of this gals post: http://hankandlucy.blogspot.com/2012/04/photograph-in-months-after-henry-was.html

    sigh. now come to california.

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  27. I read this post 24 hours before going camping for the first time with our 19 month old boy. I foolishly ignored your warning. We lasted approximately 10 hours longer than you. There were other circumstances which stopped this being a relaxing night (plague of mosquitoes, dual carriageway), but I don't know why I thought Max would know WHY we should eat dinner sitting on the floor, or not walk across the 'bedroom' in muddy shoes, or not touch the gas stove (it's small, it's got small saucepans, a small kettle, it's mine.) Though he loved being outside, we didn't so much, come 5.30am, when morning milk was being demanded.
    We'll give it another year. or two.

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  28. This post really hit home for me and my baby is only 3 months old. It's funny how you think parenthood will be one way before it actually happens and then you realize that it's not all in your hands. I guess you have to accept that the tiny person you created has her own personality and be ok with that. I love that you guys went anyway and made happy memories even if it didn't work out exactly as planned. It totally gives me hope.

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play nice.