Tuesday, February 28, 2012

It's time to unplug

Early morning at the camp site...
I can only hear the sounds of nature

About a month ago, Robby asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday. After a little thought and an outdoor cooking class at Oatland Island, I decided I wanted all of us to go camping. We settled on Ft. McAllister State Park which is about 15 minutes from the house and began compiling our gear.

I wasn’t sure how the camping trip was going to mesh with my school schedule. I try to get all of my homework finished during the week so that my weekends are free, but it doesn’t always work that way. Luckily, my homework load was light and I was able to spend the weekend “unplugged.”
I don't remember the last time I got to read a book
and take a nap in the middle of the day.
I use the term “unplugged with the kids. It means they have to spend the afternoon or day or weekend without turning on a computer, gaming device, or television. They have to be creative and find alternate ways to entertain themselves. They used to hate being “unplugged” but now they have come around to the idea.
We spent Friday and Saturday night at the campground. That was almost 2 full days of being “unplugged.” The kids explored the woods, we took walks, read books in our tents, skipped rocks on the river, and fine-tuned our outdoor cooking skills. I even left my cellphone in the car and ignored my email.

Being a mom, I see the importance and making the kids “unplug.” But it’s hard for me to understand why I need to take my own medicine sometimes. Being “unplugged” forces me process memories and “think about things” that I can normally push to the back of my mind.

Mmmm...biscuits and bacon taste better
when they are cooked on an open fire

But this weekend was different for some reason. Putting up the tents and cooking on the camp stove brought back a lot of memories from the early part of my marriage. My ex and I used to camp a lot. When we were 18, we drove from Texas to Yellowstone and camped out the entire trip. When we moved to Alaska in 1997, we camped at almost every park from Georgia to Fairbanks. We set up our tent in places like the Yukon, British Columbia, and Montana. We camped on the banks of Valdez and caught some amazing salmon that we cooked on an open fire.

But it made me sad to realize that we never shared those types of camping trips with the children. We camped a few times in Disney World with the kids, but it was different. Veronica and Jude never got to see us when we were young and happy—they only got to witness a very sad and frustrated couple trying to make everyone believe that everything was okay.

But I realized this weekend, that it doesn’t make me sad any more to think about those fun times we used to have. As much as I would like to write off my past as a total mistake, I have to admit that it wasn’t all bad. As a matter of fact, some of it was pretty amazing. I mean, how many people can say they camped at the Article Circle or woke up to a family of black bears catching spawning salmon a few feet from the door of their tent?
I’m glad I had the chance to “unplug” this weekend and allow myself the time to let these good memories flood my head and not push them to the back of my mind. I’m glad I took the time to accept that it’s okay to admit that my past wasn’t all tragic.

Skipping rocks and breathing fresh air...

I’m glad Robby is comfortable with me talking about my past—even when I’m not badmouthing my ex. And I’m glad I had all those camping adventures even if they were with someone that I don’t like to think about anymore. But most of all, I’m glad that I didn’t refuse to go camping again in an effort to not be reminded of my past. I realized this weekend that it’s okay for me to think about my past and smile a little—I guess it wasn’t all bad after all.

1 comment:

  1. Great post Kim! I love the idea of "unplugging" with your kids and camping is one of the best ways to do it! Me, I've decided no social media on Sundays...I've gone black on Sundays! Love reading your posts.