I took the boys on a camping trip solo this weekend. Just me, a 2.5-year-old and 4-year-old, sleeping in a tent and cooking over a campfire for two days and two nights.
This was not my first time camping. The wasn't even my first time camping with the boys. But it was my first time camping ALONE with the boys. Oscar is a great age for camping, and I think Miles is right at the lower limit for camping - around 2 or 2-and-a-half. Not that you can't take a baby camping, but no way would I take a baby AND a toddler camping together by myself.
Anyways, I decided to take them on this trip for a few reasons. First, we had promised the boys we'd go camping at least once more before it got too cold. Second, Nelson is studying for a big professional exam and there's not much I can do to help, other than give him time, space, and quiet to study. Third, camping with Oscar and Miles is fun, and I wanted to take them and create this good memory for all three of us.
Nelson was surprised that I offered to take them on a camping trip alone, and suggested I try to find someone to go with us. It's not so much that he thought I couldn't do it, but logistically, camping with small children is tough. Normally, one of us rides herd while the other pitches the tent and makes camp. He was worried it'd be difficult for me to make/break camp and also watch the kids, and that is a valid concern. I had that concern myself.
So, I did try to recruit others to camp with us with no success. Regardless, I had told the boys about the trip and committed to them that I'd take them, so we were going. I felt nervous, but Nelson kept reminding me that I'm an experienced camper, and an experienced parent. There was nothing that we would be doing that I had not done before and that I could not handle.
I got lots of comments, both on Facebook and at the campground, about the fact that I was camping with too small boys. "It's really impressive that you'd take on camping with two small boys" and "Just you and the little ones? Good for you" and "You are doing a really great job with them" (from the campers next door) and "You're a rockstar" and I believe that someone may have even nominated me for a Nobel Prize.
Someone on Facebook asked the question would people still think what I was doing was special had I been a dad camping with my kids. I appreciate that question. I think it's important that we examine traditional parenting and gender rolls, like dads take kids camping and moms bake cookies with their kids. Like, why should stay-at-home dads get more kudos than stay-at-home moms? Why is that more important and special Why is a mom camping with her kids more noteworthy and impressive than when a dad does the same thing? These are fair and important questions that we should ask ourselves and each other.
I also think it is fair to address this. Now, I don't know for sure, but based on what I heard while camping, and what I saw while camping, I really think it was the age and number of kids that I took camping with no help that people found impressive. I did see other moms camping with kids, but they were older kids. Miles was really one of the youngest kids, at least on our loop (lots of campgrounds in state parks are broken up into loops throughout the park.) It was really too cold to camp with kids much young than him unless you had a popup, which plenty of people did.
Maybe it was the novelty of seeing a mom camping solo with her kids? Like I said, there were a few others, and I personally know several other moms that camp, some alone with their kids, and even they were impressed that I'd taken two littles all by my lonesome. There were no only dads with kids on my loop (not that that never happens, but it wasn't happening where we were this weekend.)
So, tell me, what is more impressive? That I'm a mom who camps alone with her kids, or that I'm a mom who camps alone with two young children? Do you camp? Would you go by yourself with two young ones?