The Promises We Make

When we get married, we make a bunch of promises. Some we make in front of God, legal authorities and our Aunt Bertha. Some are lovingly whispered in a car late at night in front of your apartment. There are even some politely demanded before any sort of engagement takes place.

I think the ones that give us the most trouble are the unspoken promises we assume our spouse is making to us when he promises to love and honor us for the rest of our lives.

Love. This includes making the bed together every morning with the occasional zany pillow fight thrown in for good measure, undying passion and of course squeezing the toothpaste from The Right End.

Honor. This includes supporting us in all our endeavors, not letting the kids ever talk to us “like that” and never asking if the fudge brownie fits in with our weight loss goals.

Before Dan and I got married, we promised a lot of things. Some of them we’ve delivered on and many others are a work in progress. When I said I’d stay home with the kids, he may have envisioned some sort of eternally clean palace of domestic bliss and constant learning. It’s… something like that.

One thing Dan promised was that he’d go camping with me and our future offspring. At the time we did not have kids so he had no idea what he was getting himself into. I also think he hoped I’d never call him on that promise. I assumed that promise meant he’d go camping and LOVE it, he’d plan the trips, buy the Jiffy Pop and pack the waterproof/breathable jumpsuits. He thought it meant he’d go camping.

This weekend I finally got my act together and we leeched onto some of our friends who are much more experienced hardcore campers and off we went. When Dan promised to go camping, I don’t think he knew I meant in the rainy cold weather. I don’t think he pictured a night where a freaked out 2-year-old would sleep between us, sitting up periodically, screaming, head-butting us and then screaming again while we tried to comfort/muffle him.

I also don’t think he imagined how much Laylee would love it. From the moment we arrived at the campground, she was a ball of joy, hugging us, declaring her love and begging to go camping again every day and forever. We ate great food, spent time with wonderful friends, slept in a beautiful forest, saturated Western Washington with hot chocolate, grew closer as a family and were not eaten by squirrels.

There’s almost always more to a promise than what you intend when you first make it. Luckily most times, like this weekend, most of the more is the good kind of more, the kind of more that makes you want to promise again.

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29 Responses to The Promises We Make

  1. Nantiemeg says:

    I’m so glad that Laylee loved camping so much! And I can totally imagine her doing all those things. Please post or send a pic of her hugging a tree!

  2. Kimberly says:

    How can you be so witty and so sweet all in one post? What an amazing gift you have!

    I’ve never thought of promises like that, and the whole while I was reading that I was kind of nodding along with the rhythm of the words thinking, “Yeah…that’s exactly how it is.” I know for a fact that Neil didn’t get what he bargained for. I asked him once if he loved me, even though I’d changed so much from the timid, innocent girl he married.

    He answered me thus, “I don’t just love you for who you are, I love you for your potential, the potential you’re beginning to fill.”

    I wanted to kiss him and slap him upside the head at the same time. But I promised myself I’d never hit my husband, even in jest. ~sigh~

  3. I laughed at your recap of the crying 2yo in between you! Our last camping trip, it rained all night and the tent leaked big time, and the baby was 4 months old and I had to nurse him and it felt like I was breastfeeding an ice cube. We rented a boat and broke it and in return it broke our bank account. To top it all off, I forgot my toothbrush and had to use my 3yo’s. g-r-o-s-s!

    I think we are going again next weekend though…

  4. Heffalump says:

    Camping in the Northwest is great isn’t it? I don’t think we have ever gone camping without rain for some of the experience…usually at night, and usually ending in small puddles of water finding their way in just at the edges of the tent. We do an indoor campout once a year, usually in January where we set up a tent in the living room, turn off the TV (and usually the rest of the electricity too), eat foil dinners or cook in the dutch oven and just have fun. Its one of the boys’ favorite times each year…and no rain!

  5. chilihead says:

    What is it with you campers? I truly do not get it. I don’t point fingers and laugh, but I do not get it. And camping in the rain? Um, no. Snow? Um, no. Drizzle? Um, no. Perhaps if it’s sunny and 72 I will *think* about it. But do I have to sleep on the ground?

    I’m not prissy, but I like me a bed.

  6. grammyelin says:

    I am so glad the squirrels didn’t eat you!!! what would I ever do without you? I’m also so glad that Laylee (and for that matter, you) LOVE the camping. It has been the source of so much fun and even JOY for us over the years.

    PICTuRES! Where are the pictures?

  7. Mir says:

    I, too, am relieved that you weren’t eaten by squirrels, because then how would I get my daily Undiscovered Pigs Feet update??

  8. Kel says:

    I grew up in a family that camped a lot, and I am so grateful. There is nothing like time with the family where there is nothing to do besides hang out with each other – and eat dutch oven, of course.
    Now, if it would only stop raining/snowing here in the east maybe we could get a camping trip in too.

  9. Heth says:

    Camping. It brings out the best and the worst in us. I’m glad you had a great time! I’m sure Maggo will eventually warm up to it.

  10. sarah k. says:

    Derek promised me, in words, that he would always do the dishes. He is still serious about this, and if they don’t get done for a few days (what? me? do dishes?), he appologizes. I love it. And he CANNOT ask me to do them.

    So we’ve been camping a few times. My favorite was the night that Zeebie cried so hard he threw up, right into my hands. Oh wait, was that only once? I was pregnant, and I started screaming to my MIL and Derek to GRAB A BOWL, QUICK! as I flew out of the tent, holding my treasure as far from my person as my little arms would reach. I made Derek wash my hands for me. Then I lay down with my little boy and sang to him for an hour while he stroked my face, until he fell asleep.

    I love camping. I love sandy diapers. I love leaky tents in rain, several days of no sleep whatsoever, hikes that only last 1/4 mile because of the incessant whining, hot dogs, sunburns…

    The biggest problem with camping is that you need a full weekend to recover from it.

  11. Traci says:

    So tender. And funny. Which is as good a combo as s’mores.

    You guys are seriously courageous to go camping as a family. I love it myself and my husband is all about outdoorsiness but the thought of preschoolers along has me shaking in my boots – and it’s nothing to do with man-eating squirrels!

  12. We’ve been camping since the first month of marriage. We both grew up with it. We’ve taken our kids since they were 6 months old. My kids cannot even imagine a summer without camping because it’s just a part of our lives like drinking water. As soon as the weather hits 60 degrees, our kids begin asking when we are going.

    I think it’s great Laylee loved it! Magoo will too in time. The more you go, the more they adapt!

  13. Sketchy says:

    LOL, Well as a tip if you want him to go camping and love it, you might try not camping in Western Washington in the rainy season…just a thought. Not that leaves many opportunities, but you know, August works.

    I don’t know what I’d do if Tom wasn’t into camping though, it’s my favorite type of vacation!

  14. bon says:

    You have galvanized me. Both Dadguy and I love to camp, but our favorite part about camping has always been the “peaceful and relaxing” portion… the first part to go when you have small-ones.

    We WILL go this year again!

  15. Cyndy says:

    I love to camp! Now my 4 boys at home are 13-18 and go with their BSA groups…(My husband is their Young Men Leader) and I am “home alone”. Last year I would take the youngest (then 12) and we would just go together. I will never forget the day that the “baby” was old enough to know that fire pit was a place to avoid and the day that I could leave the campground and go for a bike ride and not worry about “the baby”. Now, sadly, I have no more babies at home to worry about and/or go camping with! Take advantage of these great times! Part of our success as a family is directly related to the bonds we tied while in the wilderness of Washington state campgrounds in the drizzle. I miss those crazy days! I think I might go April 27-28…anyone want to go with me? (My boys are camping with their troops–I am looking for companionship of another 55 year old crazy female.)

    Mom of eleven, ages 31-13.

  16. Eve says:

    Your insane, yet hard-core and cool at the same time. Call me in JULY and we’ll come to. Only in July though, when the chance of rain is less then 80%.

  17. jk2boys says:

    I thought I liked camping, I liked it as a kid…but when we decided to go camping one night of our honeymoon I realized a few things about myself. First of all, we got there at dark and I didn’t feel good about the first place so we moved to the next. We couldn’t get the tent figured out, so we tried sleeping on the ground on a tarp. But the bushes kept moving and I didn’t want bugs in my sleeping bag (I thought the tent would at least help with this a little). Anyway, we slept in the car. But hey, we went rafting the next morning and that (YES rafting) was my favorite part of our honeymoon. Teamwork, lifevests, rapids,birds, trees, and sun peeking through (sigh)….. we didn’t bring a camera but the rafting guide took our pictures with a disposible camera and mailed them to us for FREE. I loved the rafting that day. And I do still love campfires and camping, but I have realized that I do not like camping unless it’s with a HUGE group of family and/or with friends. AND as long as we can set up the tent during daylight hours. BTW, it was not a “pop-up tent” it had a million rods to be connected and we had one flashlight.

  18. Katherine says:

    What a fun weekend. I’m glad Laylee liked it! 🙂 One of my family studies professors in college used to quote a study that showed that one of the best things for building family bonds was to survive camping trips together! 🙂

  19. Cheryl says:

    Jealous, jealous, jealous!

    Until #4 is old enough for me not to worry about hypothermia, I can only dream about camping. He’ll be big enough in 2 months? Anyways, I love being in the outdoors, and that super-large tent DH bought us last year makes it all that much sweeter.

    Hooray for your camping trip!

  20. Shalee says:

    Never ventured into the camping realm, unless you include summer camp. We did that with the kidlets when they were young and cute and we could help whilst someone played with our kids.

    We’d love to do the camping thing, but we’d need friends like yours to aid us since our camping skills = zilch. It sounds like fun and adventurous and I’m sure I could convince both the kids to go find Dad to do something while I would sit and read a book in the sun.

    And under your Love or Honor portion of the post, you should include putting the toilet paper on the right way. Seriously, that’s a question that should be in all pre-marital classes to make sure that the couple is compatable. It could make or break some great relationships.

  21. Pops says:

    It’s a little surprising that DYD would go camping, considering some of the experiences he had growing up. My “favorite” was Puke Night. When you’re all together in a tent with small children and one of them lets fly, it isn’t long before everyone is up-chucking. We put everybody in the car and drove home in the middle of the night. I went back the next day to see if the tent could be salvaged and our angelic neighbors had cleaned it out and packed it up for us, thereby earning a place in the highest heaven.

    Then there was the hypothermia bit at Scout Camp…

  22. sarah k. says:

    p.s. “Aunt Bertha” was someone who only visited once a month while I was growing up. She only cared about me after I was 12, and she sure left my brothers alone. My mom never liked her, and now I know why.

  23. Michelle says:

    Oh the camping issue. Very touchy around here. I don’t like being cold or dirty, both of which are the major components of camping in Alaska. My husband has been wonderful about not having “buyer’s remorse” over my lack of interest in the outdoors thing–I suppose he thought if I was from Alaska I must love camping but boy was he ever wrong. We compromise with one camping trip a year. One.

  24. I hate camping, but I do it for my family. I don’t have to cook or clean! But I do end up cleaning and organizing the tent ten or a hundred times a day, and who packs up? Me, of course, cause I’m the only one who can do it right, and I’m the only one who wants to leave. LOL

  25. Mary says:

    This post is sweet and hilarious!

    Camping is fun and SO much work, even when you are kidless. But we have 2 kids and will be camping at the beach this summer (they will be 1 and almost 3) for a week with my husband’s family. I love camping at the beach, but haven’t done it with kids, so we’ll see how it goes! I can just imagine sand in every crevice, muddy sand in every other crevice, salt-water foot prints all over our sleeping bags, and of course, trying to keep our kids from toppling into the fire pit. Awesome! I’m sure it will be relaxing.

  26. Poppa2B says:

    There are different types of camping, I’ve been camping in the campgrounds that don’t really have running water and a Port-O-Pottie with big giant spiders in the corner to keep you company. I’ve been to places where you have nice large bathrooms with showers, lots of hot water and are cleaned twice a day, mini golf, play room, play ground and fishing pond. You can even rent a cabin in these places. My wife loves camping much to my suprise. One February, in western Washington, she decided that we should go camping for the weekend. It was freezing cold but I realized that my wife really does like to camp. I think when it’s time to camp with our offspring I’ll go to the campground that has the bathroom and hot showers, it’s not roughing it I’ll be able to teach my kid how to catch a fish.

  27. Vicki says:

    *LOL* Sounds like so many of our camping trips…Glad some of you had fun, and I hope you go again, as it does do a lot for bringing the family closer together…

    I agree that your way of posting this was just awesome!!! I often wish that I could put words together as well as you, or a few other people I know.

    Hopefully I can get my girls out camping again..It will be different this time around, as it is only the girls and I now, but am sure that the girls would have just as much fun as they did before.

  28. I love the premise of the story…the Promises we make. So much of being happy as a mom is being happy in your relationship with your partner. And working through the hard stuff, even if it means sleeping in the wet soggy woods.

    Just discovered your blog and very much enjoying it!

    Happily Even After,

  29. makakona says:

    i think i’m at my mommy best when we’re camping. there’s so little distraction and so little need to jump through the obsessive-compulsive cleanliness hoops! i can let go and let my kids get filthy dirty all day and my husband and i can sit together for hours, just listening to the wind and birds. it’s SO relaxing to me! our youngest is seven weeks now and we’re a bit panicked because our oldest two had been camping already by eight weeks and we haven’t a trip planned!

    outdoor places (cabela’s and rei and such) and even walmart sell a cool ice cream maker. it’s a ball that you fill with milk, sugar, and vanilla on one end and ice and salt on the other. you shake it and throw it for a while and voila! ice cream! we’ve added it to our first night menu which is always foil dinners like my husband made in scouts.

    when my oldest was about 15 months, a camping neighbor gave us half of their watermelon. my husband and daughter ate the whole thing, despite my constant warnings that it was too much for her. sure enough, she spent the evening and night vomiting up beef stroganoff and watermelon. i discovered true love that trip… despite being very pregnant and very grossed out, i held my baby girl tightly all night, even as she vomited on me. we did call it quits the next morning, though, because all clean towels, linens, and clothes were gone.

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