I’ve touched on this subject before, but over the weekend I gave it some more thought…
We ducked away for a bit of local camping on the weekend, a very quick trip just 40 minutes up the road, too easy really. Takeaway pizza on the way and everything. But…I am not a camper. Or rather, I wasn’t a camper. Now I am, 18 months living on the road out of a ute and a canvas bag will probably sway you. And I loved our honeymoon of gypsy existence, I really did. But I also wanted to come home at some point, to a roof over my head and running hot water (heck, running cold water) and an oven to bake in and a postal address and a garden to grow.
I didn’t grow up camping, Matt actually took me on my first ever camping trip when we were 18, to Dargo in the Victorian High Country. I didn’t hate it. I didn’t love it. I could take or leave…but I saw that it was a part of who Matt was. It came with the package, food for thought in those early days. As I discussed this topic with Matt last night, unpacking from our quick camping trip, we definitely agreed that perhaps had we met much later in life and established a relationship, swaying me to being ‘a camper’ would be more difficult. People get set in their ways, I get that. I definitely think that a lot of our ‘success’ in our marriage is attributed to our youth and how young we were once upon a time (or still?!) We have grown up together.
I have definitely enjoyed camping more over the last 12 years as we have perfected our ‘system’ and our gear. No longer is it a single swag for the both of us thrown in the back of the ute (or with two of his mates and their motorbikes). When Matt suggested we travel around Australia indefinitely, camping, I stipulated in no uncertain terms that I needed a kitchen built to my needs (and I still stand by the fact that the camper we lived out of had the best kitchen I’ve ever had in any of our ramshackle farmhouses, it was custom built to my design, despite no oven, it was perfect for our needs).
I also stipulated that we still needed to enjoy non-camping holidays, tit for tat, one ‘Matt holiday’ and one ‘Emma holiday’. But as we’ve grown as a couple and a family, I’ve come to realise that’s not how it’s meant to be. There’s not ‘Matt holidays’ and ‘Emma holidays’, there are our holidays. Some say if you don’t like camping, just tell Matt to go camping by himself or take the kids and you enjoy a weekend doing something you enjoy. They’ve missed the point. I camp, and have learnt to enjoy camping, because it is important to my husband. Therefore it is important to me. That’s just what you do in a marriage – you compromise and knuckle down and grit your teeth and smile and sometimes you enjoy it and sometimes you don’t, and that’s okay. Not to say you should do something you don’t want to do, that can breed resentment, but it’s the compromise, the push and pull of everyday married family life that gets me camping. It’s not about me, it’s about us.
One thing I do know is that raising our children as campers, with memories of exploring by mountain rivers and the high country plains and wild rugged coasts and towering forests, we will be raising fantastic humans. Resilient and resourceful little people. Connected to the world around them, how things work, why things happen, not just with a greater value placed upon the Earth but also on each other as members of a team and us as a family unit. That is a certainty.
So, I camp. I do enjoy it, I do. But I also enjoy a hotel room or apartment near a great cafe or art gallery or theatre too. Potatoes potartos. Over the weekend Eleanor played endlessly for hours in the shallows of the Tanjil River, with stones and sticks as her toys and splashes and squeals as her memories. She went to sleep in the camper beside her baby sister happy and contented and filthy dirty and loved beyond measure. The simplicity of camping grounds us like nothing else, it has taken me probably the better part of a decade to realise this, to get it. Of course we see some pretty special places that we would otherwise never see by camping and traveling and exploring, that’s what we do and what we will always do as a family I hope. It’s how our love story began and keeps beating because of it, I hope our children understand that one day. It’s a big part of who we are now, as a family not just as ‘Matt and Emma’. It’s not a part of who I am or was, it’s not about me, but a bigger part of a bigger picture. That’s a bit deeper and more complex than just whether you do or don’t enjoy camping.
Compromise, settling, agreeance, understanding, accomodating, up down, yes no, push pull. Nitty gritty camping stuff is nitty gritty marriage family life stuff. Huh…who knew.
Note: Husband-dearest did take me on a surprise romantic jaunt to Hobart for a birthday long weekend sans children, and we went to Fiji for some resort island time…guess I’ll keep him.
This is a really beautiful post Emma. I haven’t camped and neither has my husband. Our holidays though always revolve around exploring national parks, getting out in nature and just being together. I agree that growing up together does make things easier, my husband and I have been together since we were 18 and that you aren’t set in your ways quite the same when you are young:) And thank you your words have served as a little reminder to me that a bit more accommodating is needed from me:)
I didn’t grow up with camping as part of my childhood, but we are giving our children this experience and I love that they get to spend time the great outdoors, and try new experiences whenever we go away. I never take toys, and it thrills me to see my nearly six year old daughter creating her own fun out of the environment around her. At Conran it was collecting sea glass and shells to make fairy gardens, at Dargo it was playing with bits of wood and beer bottle tops in the dirt, making levers over tree stumps, sending the bottle tops flying. Trips away with extended family, trips away with friends and their children. Memories made and quality time spent, Perfect.
Yes yes yes. Thank you.
Janelle Foote says
This is perfection!! Love it!
Children adapt so well. Watching them learn and explore is really something else. Beautiful read, Emma x