Stage 1: The thought of going camping crosses my mind. I think, “hmm, that might be fun. That seems like the kind of thing a good and outdoorsy sort of mom would do.”
(I am a good mom. Outdoorsy? Hmm.)
Stage 2: Mention camping to the family. Children spastic with joy. Husband on board. Progress!
Stage 3: Begin planning. Realize that there is rather a lot of stuff required to go camping with small children. Start making multiple lists.
Stage 4: Wake in the middle of the night in a panic. Mosquitoes. Damn it. There will be mosquitoes.
Stage 5: Buy bug spray. Ignore organic all-natural spray in favor of high DEET chemical bomb formula. Decide this is find because, honestly, it isn’t like we were going to have any more babies anyways.
Stage 6: Packing, packing, packing. Also? More packing. So much stuff. Pick lettuce from garden to put on sandwich for camping outing. Feel smugness levels rise to almost unbearable levels.
Stage 7: Announce that we are leaving NO LATER than 8:30 AM. Sharp.
Stage 8: Leave the house at 9:15 AM, forget to feed kids breakfast, no ice in the cooler. Off to a blistering start!
Stage 9: Roll into campsite 45 minutes late for scheduled check in time. Set up camp. Start doing the calculations about the work-to-set-up ratio versus fun ratio and then decide that math in this circumstance does nobody any favors.
Stage 10: MUD. So much mud. All the mud. Watch the children repeatedly fall down in the mud, hear the squishing of their shoes as the walk around, realize that the one spare outfit brought for each child is probably not going to cut it. Realize that I only brought one outfit for myself, the muddy one I’m already wearing. Awesome.
Stage 11: S’mores and fire time. Spend two hours alternately trying to keep the fire going with damp wood and eagle eyeing the three year old who has decided her new favorite game is running in circles with her eyes closed. Decide three year old is not interested in living to see four.
Stage 12: Bedtime. Watch as three year old bounces around the tent like a ping pong ball. Regret the s’mores. Realize that air mattress has leak and has totally deflated. Wonder what exactly I was thinking planning this thing. Panic doom spiral of impending sleepless night starts the jungle drums in my head. Seven year old steals my pillow. Kick self for only bringing two pillows for four people. Am dumbass, etc.
Stage 13: They fell asleep! Victory in our times!
Stage 14: Wake-up and realize everything hurts. Am old. Stupid air mattress.
Stage 15: Break down camp, pick slugs out of suitcase, shake spiders out of tent, stuff bag full of mud soaked clothes.
Stage 16: Get in the car and smile as the kids declare that they can’t wait to do it again.
So, honestly, the camping was a lot of work for one night but I can’t wait to do it again, for longer the next time. I liked watching the kids come alive outside, so excited for every raccoon track they found. Also, there was this: