The Myth of Solitude… or How My Nipples Became Public Property
|July 14, 2011||Filled under Miscellaneous Prose, Motherhood|
In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve decided to title my blogs with an obviousness that would deter my father before he actually reads the blog. It’s like a literary safety mechanism. (And Dad, if you get here, this one is pretty kosher.)
So I am in the grand ol’ US of A right now, touring around with my toddler, and I do recognize I’m clinging to that term way longer than appropriate (like a mother who breastfeeds beyond puberty, it’s really time to move on). And we’ve had one of those trips that has been a little… I’m not sure how to put it… but “Fucking Cursed” is really what comes to mind first. On day two, she dropped that bomb 45 pounder on her foot. An ER trip and seven stitches and various levels of trauma later, she’s laid up for three weeks with Mutant Toe. Many strange things continue to happen after that, ranging from checking a family member into rehab to waking up to a cat burglar sneaking in my window to… trying to drive through the carport with my mom’s bike on the roof. I might have to consider continuing veganism just to get my karma straight.
All these little traumas were closing in on my usual upbeat self. That and the fact that I had become the 24/7 slave to a four-year-old that now requests things to the tone of:
“Put my glass CLOSER or I will SPANK YOUR BOOTY!!!!”
If ever there was a sign that Mama needed a little solitude, this would be it.
So I decided to go camping for a weekend. Or rather, a single night. By myself. In the woods. With some bears. I seem to attract bears.
People tend to look at this misadventures and adventures of my life and consider them some kind of impossibly wild fantasies of the marginally insane mother/housewife/woman. I’m here to tell you all today, whoever you are, this one thing (okay, and a few other things, but this is the most important):
TAKE WHAT YOU NEED.
You cannot give what you want to give unless you have what you need to have. It’s simple logic people. If I did not pack my bags and sit on a beach listening to waves for at least twenty-four hours, I was in danger of breaking my vegan vows with cannibalism. I climb mountains, run trails, bike up stupid shit, and camp alone because I NEED to do these things to be a better wife/mother/woman/person. I need to take care of my needs.
In this case, my Need Caring Kit involved a pack stuffed with knitting needles, two pounds of cherries, some tofu, camp stuff, coffee, more coffee, and a Runner’s World magazine (which is kinda like porn for me, especially when there’s a dude on the cover). And my kid’s Lego headlamp because I couldn’t find a different one. That thing has some power though. I think I misled a few ships thinking I was a lighthouse or something as I spun in circles around my campfire that night.
That first day I hiked a couple of miles into a secluded beach on the beautiful Lake Pend Oreille. It was a long beach, but there were some campers at the far end. I figured this was good. They probably had hotdogs or some other bear-attracting food. I don’t think bears like tofu. They had boats too. And thus I figured they were of the adult genre of mature campers.
And so I took off my swimsuit top and let the misses soak up the sun in all their pinkish pale glory. I’m Vitamin D deficient anyway, so I imagine it’s like a medical treatment or something to be tanning topless. It’s not exactly that I wanted to singe the little dears, but I do have a wedding gown to wear in some weeks, and tan lines are so passé.
It was a glorious day on the water. Blue skies. My tent perched on the beach. Waves lapping at my feet. After just a few hours of not hearing orders or requests or needs issued at me, I felt… dare I say… rejuvenated. Left alone to my own thoughts, I wondered about the sacrifice of motherhood and decided it is all a ridiculous way to not take responsibility for our own selves. We’re not supposed to sacrifice ourselves, but enhance ourselves. To be a good mother, I must be a healthy woman. Healthy women need to flip through pages of men modeling running garb and not be interrupted. Also, nudity without kid-commentary is enjoyable. Because I swear the next time my kid asks me if she got stuck in my Bagina on the way out, I’m banning her from the bathroom.
I see the campers down the beach. The crowd there seems to be growing but they are unusually quiet, and their dogs unusually well-behaved, for a pack of Saturday-night campers.
When the sun went down, I made a fire, ate my dinner, and curled up in my tent rather appreciative that I wasn’t in Grizzly country. And that I wasn’t exactly alone. I like to pretend to be all outdoorsy and whatnot, but the truth is, if I am sleeping alone in the woods in a tent, chances are I am too scared to go outside and pee.
The next morning I went outside and made campfire coffee. No one talked to me. No one asked for cereal with yogurt on top and just seven blueberries. No one drank the rest of my coffee when I wasn’t looking. I skipped rocks. I laid in the sun. Topless. No one tried to play radio dials on my nipples. I watched the neighboring campers go back and forth on their boats, wake boarding. I watched my cherries float off into the lake (I had set the bag in the water to cool). When they drifted back in, I braved the cryogenically approved water temperature and swam out to get them. I ate them. I waved at the campers when they waved at me.
Later I decided I was ready to socialize and I wanted to walk to the other end of the beach and check out some rock climbing potential. I threw on some shorts and a shirt, and trekked down the rocky shore. As I got closer to the campers, I noticed they appeared to be rather youngish looking adults. Perhaps teens. Oh dear, perhaps young teens. Droves of them. All smiling brightly. At me. As if they knew me. Better than most.
A nice man came forward to chat as I nodded my camper’s nod of good morning. He was a chatty man, older, and seemingly nervous by my presence. Which I was beginning to understand seeing as he was the only person in the crowd with a driver’s license. We talked about the weather and he assured me that all these kids were really NICE kids. NICE kids he said. Really nice. I ask if they are local. He says no, not really.
They are from the ueber Christian Bible School down the highway.
They’re schooled now. That’s for sure.
Not too many topless tanners in Corinthians.
And my way was merry indeed. I hummed while I packed my tent, and it wasn’t a fucking Raffi song. I felt, and don’t laugh at me here, something like… like inner peace washing over me.
When I got home later, I was amazed to find that not only did I love my child, but the mere sound of her voice was not like fingers on a chalk board. I didn’t mind that she jumped all over my body. In fact, I liked personal contact again. And when I heard the incessant chirp of “Mama” – it didn’t make me want to bang my head against a wall while sucking a bottle of wine through a funnel. It made me want to take care of my baby, love her, and laugh with her. Because I’d already taken care of myself.