This has been an extremely difficult week for me … and it’s only Tuesday. The problem? I celebrated my independence for four days straight. Now I’m finding it tough to shoulder the burden of work and daily responsibility.
For the past three years, we have joined those we love most in the world for a Fourth of July weekend family campout. At times we resembled a refugee camp. At the very least, a gang of gypsies. Accommodations range from tents to campers to motor homes, one year a tour bus. And there are always those who sleep under the stars.
It’s an environment where fishing is required. Laughter is inevitable. Bathing is optional. Teeth brushing, or at the very least gargling, is highly recommended. It’s a span of hours when amazing amounts of food are prepared and consumed. Children roam freely without curfews or constraints. Campfire meetings involve s’mores, jokes, stories and intense feelings of belonging.
The only rules? Have fun. Be kind to others. Live each moment to the fullest.
And now … it’s back to reality. My children argue bed time. I see their point. I can’t find a valid reason for 9 p.m. lights out just because we’re sleeping in our own beds and not in a sleeping bag. And another thing … why do they have to take a bath? They didn’t have to when we were camping, for goodness sakes! Ok … fine. Go run through the sprinkler a few times … grab a bar of soap on your way out.
The kids are the least of my worries. I’m the one with the real dilemma. The adjustment from total relaxation to reality in the span of 12 hours was especially challenging. I had to go to work on Monday. I had to shower off my independence, adorn myself in working garb and wrap my mind around marketing, branding, advertising and return on investment. I had to sit in a conference room and focus on editorial content when my heart hadn’t quite recovered from the love fest of a Sunday morning worship service in the great outdoors or the camaraderie of family spanning four generations.
But I survived. I even concentrated. I accomplished what I needed to and then came home, embraced my family and stared, starry-eyed, at the photos of our weekend. It’s such a special time … an experience that stays with you for days, months … until next time.
And then the phone rings. What? A last-minute get-together this Friday night? Absolutely. This time we’ll leave our fishing poles behind. We’ll arrive freshly bathed and hair combed. Mindful of curfews and well-behaved children … but we’ll still gather. We’ll partake. We’ll live and love and belong, because we’re family.
That’s the most important thing you know. It’s not work or gas prices or politics or discipline. It’s the value you place in the family God gave you … no matter what.
As Jane Howard said, “Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.”