Monday, October 24, 2011

Moms that camp

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?

13 comments:

Strawberry said...

I would think it were just as impressive/crazy if Nelson were to take the boys camping instead of you- gender has nothing to do with it :) I think it's great that you did it, and I imagine it'll be at least another year before we try, and it might be in a cabin for starters.

Jennifer said...

Way to go!! I recently became a single Mother of two and have been wondering about how our camping trips will be next year....Your post inspired me and made me realize I might be the only adult but I can still take my kiddos camping!!

VandyJ said...

I know I don't have the bravery to take two small boys camping without dad. Nick has taken Turbo camping, but we aren't quite ready to try it with Bruiser and Turbo and only one parent.
Good for you and sounds like everyone had fun.

Sprite's Keeper said...

I think it's special that you're just having a great time with your boys whether or not you're in the woods. If I could get in tune with the great outdoors, I would totally do it, with or without John, but I'm a big wuss who hates spiders, snakes, and anything less furry than a puppy, so no go for me.

Andrea said...

OK, I am going to admit that the thought of staying at a hotel with my 11 and 14 year olds on my own doesn't give me warm thoughts. The reality though is that I wouldn't be able to stay alone at the hotel either. Clearly I am working with a whole set of anxieties that you did not need to pack. I guess I just think it's overall cool...the whole package!

Aimee said...

I'm pretty darned impressed that you're a PERSON who camps with two littles, one of whom is under age 3, gender notwithstanding!

Michele R said...

Gosh, so many thoughts--what a great, thoughtful post. Well, I am impressed that you put up a tent--I'm assuming the tent has those little fiberglass poles that have to be thread through loops. I could easily get a divorce just trying to put up the tent with Hubs and would have to practice 4 times in the yard before camping alone. I am impressed by the follow through to your sons since they were counting on the camping again before the winter. And I do get how it made for a special weekend for you rather than corraling them around the house or town to give your Hubs some studying room. Because you are married and not single, I am impressed that each of you adults did what you needed to get done on the weekend. I want photos!

Heather said...

Personally, I would be impressed with either parent (mom or dad) who took two small children camping. I also think single parents are super heroes. While I do the whole parenting thing solo every day, and the brunt of the childcare falls to me...at least there is someone else to tag in when I need a moment. So, in this case, regardless of gender, I would be impressed with whoever took two small children camping...but what GREAT memories they, and you, will have!

Keely said...

That was me, that nominated you for that Nobel prize.

Or maybe it was an Emmy.

Anyway, I'm just impressed you take two kids that age anywhere, let alone camping. I'd struggle in the wilderness of WalMart.

Pamela said...

I took all my people camping by myself and nobody nominated me for a prize. It's proof you know better people.

Michele said...

I think it is great that you spend time with the boys that way and that you are giving them the camping experience.

Amanda said...

I would have been just as impressed if it had been a dad. It's the parent taking the two kids solo that I think is brave. I don't think I'd take even one small child camping on my own!

Susanica said...

So when is blogger going to give us an option to "like" certain comments. Hilarious. And as the FB friend who actually posed the question, I actually see both sides. Taking two young kids camping alone is deserving of kudos yes. But I do think that in our society, men are expected to be excellent at throwing up a tent without breaking a sweat, and don't get me started on "fire building skills" question. The rest is just playing with the kids and not letting them starve or freeze right? (Hopefully mom sent along some ready to cook up foods right?). So for a man to camp and have his toughest thing be to supervise his kids, and for a woman to camp and have her toughest thing to be, well, the logistics of camping, I do think there is a bit of a bias toward men.

Maybe I should not wish for that "like" button. ;-)