I don’t want to be like you.

I just want to belong to you.

This past week my friend, Shannon, and I took our children camping in southwest Michigan. We set out on Thursday under cloudy, threatening skies, hoping for the best. There was some talk of postponing the trip, but finding another three day space this summer just wouldn’t happen, so we set out. Our husbands, left at home to work, shook their heads at their crazy wives and agreed to join us on Friday. Maybe.

It started out cold, and drizzly and windy. The playground, right next to our campsites (the reason I had chosen said sites) was nothing but a giant patch of sand with a single, sad, solitary monkey bar set. Less than ideal conditions. The kids? Loved it. Lu-huhuhuved it.

This is what they did the entire weekend.

They took one look at that giant patch of sand and turned into dirty, feral digging machines. There was a water source near by, which meant they could dig moats and make sand castles and get completely filthy in general. Oh, we took breaks for eating and snacking, walking to the beach, eating and snacking some more, but the sand called them back again and again.

Thursday night was cold and windy. I slept with all the older kids in my tent, Shannon had baby Molly in her tent. With the storm our tent shook and rattled, buffeted by the wind. I woke quite a few times, wondering when the kids would start crying, when I would have to walk a terrified Aiden and Bailey in the rain over to their mama’s tent. But they slept through. Josie woke up around three a.m. Scared in the storm? No. She wanted to sleep next to Bailey. With my Josie, it’s never a simple matter of just getting up and stepping over the child that is currently sleeping next to Bailey, so she can scooch herself in. No with my sweet Josie, it means she needs my help and things aren’t right, and the blankets are weird, and Mikey is touching me, and now I’m whining……. and then Mama says “just stay in your spot Jose, you’ll play with Bailey tomorrow. This is too much. Too much. Just go to sleep.” Not the answer Josie wanted. So there was a long bout of crying and whining, but that was the worst of our weekend.

Friday dawned gray and wet and miserable. Shannon and I sat in the front seat of my van while the ruffians played in the back, relishing the warmth and dryness a car could afford. We thought of going home. We tested the idea with the children. Surely they were wet and miserable and cold as well? NO!!! The were having a great time! Don’t make them go home!

So we stayed.

The husband had his notion that I am crazy confirmed for the seven hundredth time when I called to tell him we are staying. The kids are having fun, I said, we can’t make them leave. Truth be told, even though I was miserable and wet and cold, I was having fun too.

Our husbands joined us that night. We ate hot dogs and s’mores and brown bears under the stars, stayed up entirely too late talking and woke up (I really can’t say refreshed) to a beautiful day. The rain and the clouds had disappeared, leaving a perfect summer day in their wake. We all hiked down to the beach and enjoyed our last day camping. All in all a good weekend.

Growing up, we were always far from blood relatives. My grandparents lived in Missouri and Michigan, my various aunts, uncles and cousins scattered throughout the world. We didn’t have family close by, but we managed to put together a motley assortment of family members. The missionaries in CAM were my many aunts and uncles, their children my cousins. Some of my dearest friends are from the churches I grew up in. I consider many of them to be closer than blood.

We all want to be different. Doesn’t the saying go “You are unique and special….. just like everybody else.”? I know I don’t want to be “normal”. I don’t want to fit in and blend in to everyone else. At our co-op this spring, one of the little girls was having trouble remembering my name and referred to me as, “the mom with the pretty skirts”. Fine with me! I like being myself.

But I also want to belong. The trouble I have with the U S is this idea that you must be like the people in your group in order to belong to them. The only group I am like is the missionary kid group, and even then we vary. But I belong to them.

Living here in the States – actually, Chesterton is the longest I’ve lived anywhere! – I’ve found it hard to find a group I belong to. I don’t want be just like everyone else. I do want to be with them. It would be nice if they wanted me, too. I can fit in, sure, but I want my heart to feel like it belongs. I want to be at rest, not worried of what they will think of me if I deviate from the norm. Of course we have all of the husband’s family in the area, and we belong to them. They love us very much, as we love them. My side of the family is far away, though. The people I belong to are scattered from Mexico to Texas to Pennsylvania. So I’ve had to find my own family, my own group here in Cheesetown.

I’m not like Shannon in many ways, and she’s not like me. But I feel like I belong.
Our kids love each other so much, it’s sweet to see. I can’t think of a better family to be miserable, and cold, and wet with. This is what I thought as I drove home on Saturday. I belong.

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5 thoughts on “I don’t want to be like you.

  1. You have a wonderful way with words and feelings Kris! I'm so glad you have such a good friend in Shannon! You ARE like her – you're both crazy! Ha! And lovin' every minute of it!

  2. You make me cry! I am very fortunate to have you in my life. Who would have guessed that life would bring us here? So what is our next adventure?

  3. i love this post, kris. I love that you guys did this – and that your kids embraced it with such enthusiasm. we're lucky to have you here in "cheesetown" – reminding us that you don't have to travel across the world or have a million dollars to have a full fleged adventure.

  4. You and Shannon are the bomb, Miss Kris. What awesome memories you both are gifting your kids with. I agree with Paige, we're lucky to have you here in Chesterton. I was inspired by this post. Thank you!

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