|Noelle's Photo of our Abandoned Tent|
My back hurt.
The air reeked of toxic bug spray.
My daughter talked non-stop for hours.
My allergies were going absolutely haywire.
The only preparation was the hour I spent trying to piece together a instruction-less pop-up tent we unwittingly disassembled, rendering the automatic pop-up feature useless. It was a impromptu camp-out.
I loved it. When I was a girl, I was fascinated with tents, forts and camping. I was greeted with laughter when I suggested to my parents that we camp-out as a family vacation. We didn't know any black folks that went camping. Still, I passed my love of quasi-outdoor life to my daughter.
I bought her the tent for her 8th birthday.
At any given time during our camp out, Noelle's head would unexpectedly pop-up, jerk around a bit and she would ask in a rushed semi-frantic whisper, "Whatwasthat?"
When she wasn't talking about cake fondant or listening for bear attacks, Noelle spent her time twitching and flicking with bug paranoia. Bugs give her big-time heebie geebies and she swore they were in her hair, crawling down her pajamas and trying to fly in her mouth. But my girl stayed put insisting she didn't want to sleep inside. Her brothers - way too scared to camp out in the dark.
The entire experience got me to thinking about what it means to 'do you' as my friend Mel likes to say. Noelle and I were simply being ourselves. No snacks. No campfire songs or the obligatory ghost stories. There we were in a wilted tent, armed with blankets stolen from my son's bed, a Hello Kitty flashlight and a can of old bug spray. Our entertainment was watching a British you-tuber on my iphone assembling a hot pink cake in the shape of a Louie Vuitton Alma bag. In the Pinterest world, our campout would have been a remarkable 'FAIL".
That is how we roll.
At 4:00, as I was finally drifting off, the blue of the tent flickered from a series of light followed shortly by the tell-tell rumblings of thunder. It dawned on me as I scrambled to snatch up 30 pounds worth of blankets that I never bothered to check the weather. I dumped the blankets inside, ran back out and struggled with stuffing my blue plastic adirondack chair into the tent. Who needs tent stakes when you have perfectly useful lawn furniture?
Not too long ago I would have be concerned about making it a perfect experience. A good mom would have cleaned and stitched up her daughter's sleeping-bag. There would have been a fire-pit and roasting of some sort. Maybe even a evening movie projected onto the back of our house or a sheet magically suspended from the trees. I would have tried it all, only to end up frustrated, stressed and remarkably irritated if any of it didn't live up to my idealistic, totally unreasonable vision.
At this stage of MY game, I thank God everyday, that even during the hard times when my insecurities and inner 'crazy' run rampant - I do everything I can to be myself. I remember my life and my mini-adventures with my kids don't have to look like a Pinterest wish list. It is about the time, the moments together. Even as I type this, I am still in my pjs, Noelle and Q are playing Mindcraft in the bed next to me and the dogs are in their forbidden spot - at the foot of my bed. I am surrounded by mounds of clean laundry, my night table looks like a hospital bedside and my kids and dogs stink. But we are together and happy.
That is how we roll.