Camping is fun. Packing for camping is not.
Back in my late teens and twenties, it was almost a competition amongst outdoorsy types, to see how little you could take with you for a week long canoe trip. A Thermarest, a sleeping bag that stuffed into a sack the size of a loaf of bread, a little Primus stove, and a pack of matches...that was about it.
I'm five days into packing for a family of five's five-day camping trip. I've created framework organisers to keep track of every-weather clothing for all of us, packed and unpacked the kids' suitcase, and have anticipated every possible ailment that might occur. I'm ready for days of rain, with a bin full of playdough, craft materials, books (fiction and non-fiction!), and games. I have fishing rods, boogie boards, snorkels, goggles, and bikes.
All this packing had me exhausted before we've even leave home, and wondering if it's all worth it.
Then I remembered days at my cousins' cottage, when I was a child. There was always a dry towel wrapped lovingly around me when I finally emerged from the cold, northern lake. As the evening chill came on and the fire was lit, there was always a warm sweatshirt and a pair of track pants ready for me. We never thought about food; our mothers just set out cereal, peanut butter sandwiches, and copious amounts of Koolaid to get us through the day.
One of the many gifts our mother gave us was a carefree childhood. Of course we didn't think about bring rubber boots or bug repellent...kids shouldn't have to think about those things. Everything we needed was just there, as if by magic.
And now, all this packing feels like a privilege; I can now offer my children the same thing my mother gave me: warm pyjamas, plentiful snacks, dry clothes after a swim, and little flashlights to play with in the tent.
Of course, I've packed a basket of goodies for myself, just in case I find a moment to relax, after all this packing.
Here's to all the mothers out there, who work behind the scenes (birthdays, Christmas, trips, holidays) to make sure that their children's lives are fun, stimulating, safe, and most of all, carefree.