Sunday, July 21, 2013

Left Out Again

Mike is back from camp. He's tired, but he had a great time. He's spent most of the afternoon on the couch, alternating between catching up with work on his computer and napping. I had a million questions for him.

Oh, I don't want to write about this.

I am so jealous that he got to go to camp and I didn't. There were bonfires on the beach, challenge courses, wilderness survival training. They arranged for the kids to sleep on the beach. Some of them liked it so much, they dragged their dads out for another night of it. They sang songs at lunch. They had a Dutch oven chili cook off. There were skits and merit badges and snacks stolen from tents by a raccoon. It made me sad that I missed all that.

Mike told me there were some helicopter moms that were in their kids' faces during the challenge course. We both shook our heads.

"But you know I wouldn't do that," I said. Mike continued to type on his computer.

"I know," he said absently. There was a pause and he looked up, right into my eyes. "No, I know you wouldn't do that. I know you wouldn't."

Another pause.

"But it would have changed to dynamic to have you there. It really would."

"When we met, you asked me to come to the Explorer Post trips. You needed a female advisor so the girls could come and I was excited about being included. I loved these trips, the camping, canoeing, whitewater rafting, climbing, hiking, even pushing against my claustrophobia by caving. You knew that I loved doing those things. You knew that about me and you married me. Now, you're telling me that I can't come on the best trips."

"It was definitely not right for you to be at camp. I don't know why. It just wasn't. We'll have to think about the canoe trip. We'll really have to think about doing the right thing, here."

I know what that's going to mean, ultimately. And I know what the difference is between the woman I am now and the woman I was when Mike met me.

I wasn't a mom then. I could come on the trips and, regardless of the way I approached the activities, I wasn't viewed as a mom. Oh, when the bear came into camp and a girl clung to me, wondering if a bear would attack her because she was on her period, I sort of acted like a mom. More like a big sister, really. I let Mike handle those things. He was more sympathetic. He listened and told her she'd be fine. Those stories were about grizzlies and these were black bear. He was the one the kids went to when they needed support. There weren't any adults old enough to push against when it came to parental authority. All of us leaders were in our twenties. None of us had kids.

When the boy was afraid to go into the dark by himself to pee, I rolled my eyes at him and only reluctantly found him a place half way between me and the campfire to relieve himself. The challenges I faced, I faced as a young person trying something for the first time, not as a middle-aged woman beyond her physical abilities.

And yet, I detest the idea that I can't keep doing things just because I'm getting older. I'm friends with a 93 year old woman and when I asked her if she still mowed her own lawn, she said, "If I don't do it, I won't be able to do it." She has a good point. The more I bow out of things that I used to do, the fewer of them I'll be able to do.

The problem is that I don't particularly like camping solo or I'd head off on my own while they're at camp. I guess I'll just have to start going solo or join a tour. Are there canoe trekking tours for women? I'll have to check it out. I can't just sit around at home, waiting for them to come home. I can't. I won't.

Thank you for listening, jb

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