Tonight Brian and I will pick the kids up from a week at camp. Church camp is a yearly ritual, so I know what to expect. They will be dirty and tired, and pulling large garbage bags of smelly clothes behind them. They will have stinky feet, tanned faces, and the tattered remains of friendship bracelets dangling from their wrists. A freshly tie-dyed camp shirt will grace their frames. Friends will be sought out and hugged before we can leave. One of them will forget something vitally important – perhaps a favorite stuffed toy or a slip of paper with a new best friend’s address scrawled on it – and we’ll have to turn back.
On the way home, they will tell us how inspiring and exciting and FUN worship at the outside chapel was, and ask us why we can’t build an outdoor amphitheater at our church. They will compete in ever increasing tones to be the first to tell camp stories to us. The familiar bickering will begin before we make it to the main road out of camp. They’ll both fall asleep before we are half way home, barely coming awake to stumble to their own beds once the journey is over. Tomorrow they’ll sleep in until lunch time, while I stagger through the morning doing mountains of moldy laundry.
I can’t wait.
I didn’t feel this way a week ago. At first I relished the heady quiet of our lives. Brian and I went on romantic dates, holding hands and smiling like idiots. Long conversations were blissfully uninterrupted by the demands of parenting. We indulged in a delicious meal at a restaurant where our food didn’t come wrapped in foil or lying in a paper lined plastic basket. On Brian’s day off, we spent the entire day together – shopping, a movie, chilled coffee drinks from Starbucks, and a late evening dinner prepared on the grill. We slept in a little later, and stayed awake far longer than usual.
Eventually, however, the fun began to wane. The quiet, a soothing balm at first, became an echoing emptiness. Brian works all day, sometimes into the evening, and by yesterday I was beginning to feel that I’d had my fill of alone time. Oh, I put it to good use. I dusted and mopped, vacuumed and scrubbed. I conquered the mountain of laundry. I organized my craft room, and crocheted a few items for my Etsy store. I cleaned the fridge and did the grocery shopping. I even changed the litter in the cat pan, a chore that I detest above all others.
Eventually I ran out of things to do, and began to create chores for myself. This morning, I stacked the canned goods according to product and size. The clothes in my closet are now sorted by color. The condiments in the refrigerator have been sorted by “use by” dates. Only moments ago, I trimmed my own bangs with a dull pair of craft scissors. Things can only go downhill from here.
As much as I enjoy the yearly respite from the constant demands of parenting – and make no mistake, I do enjoy it! – I’m more than thrilled when they come home again. I miss them. I admit that sometimes they make a lot of noise, argue over ridiculous stuff, and generally drive me batty. But they are good kids, and even during those times when they aren’t, they are my kids. That makes them perfect – to me at least.
I love them, and miss them, and I’m so glad they are coming home today.
Gertrude has been spending time staring out the front door. I think perhaps she is looking for the kids. She’s been a touch mopey this week without them around. She misses them!
Sparky the Cat seems not to care when or if the kids return home. He remains his usual antisocial self. I like to think that deep down he misses them; he is just too proud to admit it. Of course, just because I like to think it, doesn’t make it true.