This weekend was our first camping trip with Rowenna. It was also the first time we spent an extended period of time with “typical” children since our daughter was born.
Rowenna did well with her first camping trip. She tolerated being bundled up (and then some!) and went willingly from person to person for snuggles. She slept well and stared intently at the campfire. She made a fantastic centerpiece on the picnic table while she sat her in her bouncy seat and we ate. She even dipped her toes in the lake (under much protest) and tried out the sand.
I can’t really remember not camping over Labor Day weekend. It has always been a sacred time for my family to gather and soak up laughter and love. The attendees have changed over time, more have joined our family, some have stopped coming, but my parents and my brother are always there and I have always appreciated the intimacy of those long weekends together.
In so many ways this was a wonderful weekend. We laughed a lot and we laughed hard. We ate more than we should have. We reveled in each other and watched our little ones play. We talked about some hard truths and we discussed our favorite tv shows. My cup is definitely full now.
In some ways, though, this was the hardest weekend of my life so far. I watched my cousin’s daughter, beautiful and articulate and fully embracing her 3-year-oldness, and felt alternating waves of joy and pangs of sorrow. This beautiful girl is exactly how I pictured my daughter would be. The way she sang little songs, ran up to us for hugs, and chattered a constant stream-of-consciousness as she walked about – all of it made me so happy for my cousin and just so sad that some of the things I dreamed for Rowenna just won’t happen. It was like watching my dream realized, only in someone else’s child. It was heart wrenching.
I know I will have days like this throughout my life, days when I am jealous to the bone of someone else. I am glad, though, that I was able to see past some of that pain and feel joy for my cousin and still enjoy the weekend. I hope that means that I am on a path of healing. In the meantime, I am incredibly grateful for family and the love they have given my daughter.