I returned from my family camping trip a few nights ago. Yes, I managed to get all four of my teenagers to the North Carolina mountains for five nights of family camping! That alone was a huge accomplishment as they all work and all have very busy social lives. As I sift through the memories from our trip I am grateful for the time we had together hiking, cooking, building camp fires, just hanging out together and I am even grateful for the not so pleasant stuff that comes with gathering family together (small arguments, teasing, burping and farting even)!
We enjoyed climbing mountains, tubing down cold rivers, exploring the Blue Ridge Parkway, stopping at scenic overlooks, building campfires, and eating plenty of s'mores! Camping is dirty, it requires working together cooperatively and yes it requires everyone to get out of their comfort zone a bit. In the days we had together I watched and observed each of my children deal with camping and living in tight quarters in their own individual ways. Some were happy to be outdoors roughing it in nature and some were just putting up with and tolerating the bugs, tent sleeping and long walks to the nearest bathroom. This all really reminded me that we are all unique individuals with our own opinions, our own likes and dislikes, and our own way of dealing with life! It is my job as a parent to keep my children safe and to provide lots of unconditional love, but I know it is not my job as a parent to try and push my likes, my opinions or even my dreams on my children. Each of us come into this world with our own gifts, passions and personalities. It is also wrong to compare children to each other as they all develop and grow at different rates. I believe when children feel safe to be who they are and when they know they are loved just as they are....we allow them to blossom!
I was sad when our trip ended and we had to pack up and head home, but I know a few teens that were happy to see their friends and their comfortable beds again. It is a little funny though that the one child of mine who seems to prefer the air conditioner over the wilderness just asked me if she could plan a camping trip with her friends next week! I have to admit it makes me secretly happy that she realized on her own that she actually does like camping!
As I look through the photos from our waffle, pajama and face painting week at NLA...
I see all of the different personalities and I am convinced we truly operate as a family operates...
Sometimes we have to work together cooperatively to get the job done,
sometimes we need time to work or play alone,
sometimes we argue and sometimes we get along beautifully,
but mostly we really LOVE being together!