My family ventured out on our first camping trip this past weekend. My youngest had finally arrived at an age where we felt like it would feel more like fun than just a lot of work. I always loved camping growing up, and if I’m being completely honest, I really, really, really would love for this to become one of the things we do on a regular basis in the summer.

Just like with any other outing our family goes on, I had visions of how this trip might go. Granted, I knew there was the possibility of a hiccup or two, but I was feeling super optimistic. Here’s how it all went down.

My vision: After setting up our campsite, we would spend a sunny afternoon at the beach by the lake. The kids would frolic around and make some sand castles while the hubs and I would relax in our beach chairs. I might even get to make it through an entire magazine!

The reality: It started raining about 5 minutes after we arrived, so the trip to the beach was cut short and replaced with trying to entertain my hooligans inside the tent for an hour while it poured. Meanwhile, the hubs ran to a local store to buy medicine for my stomach-ache.

My vision: The kids would snuggle on our laps as we all sat close to a cozy fire, the firelight twinkling in my children’s eyes as we talked about how much fun we had that day.

The reality: I spent most of the evening trying to keep them from getting too close to the fire while listening to my six-year-old complain about how b-o-o-o-ring it was just to sit there and stare at a fire. (At least by this point, it had stopped raining!)

The vision: We would gather together in the warmth of our cozy sleeping bags and everyone would sleep soundly in the fresh mountain air. We would all sleep in, of course, and would awaken to the songs of birds chirping.

The reality: The kids were freezing in their own sleeping bags and they both migrated into our sleeping bags at some point during the night. Then at 4:57 a.m. (yep, I checked) we were awoken by our neighbors making a ton of noise as they packed up their gear. They did all of this while dropping f-bombs left and right in the crystal clear morning air. Awesome.

The vision: We would head back to the beach in the morning for a do-over. I mean, that IS part of the main reason we chose this particular campground. The kids would surely get to enjoy the sand and water this time around while the hubs and I relaxed in our beach chairs and tried to keep each other awake after a not so restful night.

The reality: After about 10 minutes, the wind picked up, the kids were freezing in their damp swimsuits and were begging to go home.

Not exactly the fun filled weekend I was hoping for.

Will we attempt it again? Most definitely.

Because here is the thing about parenting and life in general. There are a lot of things that don’t turn out quite like you expect or want them to. That is when you are given the opportunity (whether you want it or not) to search for the silver lining.

In our case, it was seeing how excited the boys were to get to sleep next to each other in the tent. Or the looks on their faces as they bit into their gooey smores. Or getting some unexpected extra cuddle time. Or being grateful for the rain that forced us all inside the tent because that allowed for some undivided attention for both my boys without outside distractions.

The miracles within the mess. They are always there if you choose to look.

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