When I was in my early twenties I knew a guy who liked to use his holiday time to take solo camping trips. I figured he must be an introverted type, as I couldn’t understand why anybody would want to do such a thing. It sounded a bit scary, and also lonely. But that was when I was single and had plenty of alone time each and every day. Camping was for partying with friends.
Then I became a mother to two children.
Alone time became something of the past. Something I often longed for. I would get it in bits and pieces, but found I was so busy anxiously anticipating the end of that time that I would often barely start enjoying it before it was over. Or I’d frantically try to do a hundred things and get none of them done with any satisfaction.
Ever since we got our trailer (3 years ago) I’ve been dreaming of taking off and spending some time alone. Yesterday I finally got my wish; with Husband’s blessing I packed up the trailer and set off for a nearby provincial campground for one day and night of solitude.
It was blissful, let me tell you. I could sit down and not have to get up until I felt like it. I only had to cook for one person. There were no interruptions: no kids asking for snacks, no bathroom accidents that suddenly needed attending to, no animals to feed, no chores to be done. It was just me and the dog.
It took me a while to really settle in and realize that no, I had nothing to do that I didn’t want to do. I spent the evening sitting in a camp chair next to a cozy campfire. I read for much of that time, and then when the light got too dim I just sat and stared at the fire while I slowly fed the flames with the rest of my wood. During that time I thought about all the things going on in my life, found solutions to some issues that were nagging at me, and generally just enjoyed the feeling of solitude.
Being a mother is such an amazing transformation. I remember the first time I went for a walk by myself after having my first baby. It was only a short walk around the neighbourhood but I recall feeling like I was experiencing something magical. I saw other people walking around unencumbered by a baby and a diaper bag and wondered if they realized just how lucky they were to experience such a thing. I know I never had realized it until I became a mother.
I know one day I will have that solitude again. I will be able to go out and leave my children at home unattended. I wouldn’t give up this time with my young kids for anything in the world, even if it is tough sometimes. But I have to tell you that my 28 hours of solo camping was the most wonderful, refreshing experience I’ve had in ages. While I confess I was not looking forward to coming home to a house full of dishes and laundry and other chores, I did miss my kids. I plan to take them with me as early as next week, but I really hope I’ll get the chance to do this solo thing one more time before summer is over. Not only that, but I’m determined to make such trips a priority for myself in the future, for my own mental health and well-being.
I no longer think that guy I used to know was crazy.