Friday, June 26, 2009

The Secret Life of a Camp Wife

Hi. My name is Jennifer, and I am a Camp Wife.

Hi Jennifer!

Some days I really wish there was a support group for spouses in my position. My husband has a great job that provides us with an amazing place to live and raise our kids, great insurance and benefits, nice perks and wonderful friends, but in the summer I might as well be single.

My husband works from 7:45am to midnight or later from Sunday afternoon to Friday evening. True, we can go to the camp and hang out whenever we want, but we can never have him to ourselves. There is always something happening or someone who needs him for something. He isn't even guaranteed peace to finish a meal some days.

I am very proud that he has worked his way from grass crew to assistant director. I can never brag enough that he has helped double/triple/quadruple the number of people that come to the camp, or that he has helped transform the camp's summer program from an antiquated 1950's style program into a premier leadership camp of the 21st century.

However, because of the time commitment that is required of Russel, the kids and I can very easily feel left out and abandoned. And over the years I have unconsciously created some coping mechanisms....(green are good ones, red....not so much)

emotional distance -- even before the summer starts, I can feel myself pulling away, cocooning myself in preparation for the summer hibernation. I will withdraw into books, TV shows, whatever, to not have to face the fact that the camp will steal my best friend.
overbooking -- during the summer, especially now that the kids are older, I find something for us to do. This summer it was four consecutive weeks of swim lessons, soccer camp, church camp for Julia and camping with the grandparents. For me it is work, work, work. Carpool. Showers Every Night. with no time to go grocery shopping (not that we need a whole lot, but still.... deodorant is important. I can't have my husband smelling gamey at work. We aren't European!)
dry-erase markers -- our new best friends are the dry-erase markers! We discovered a few years ago that (DUH!) you can write on your mirrors with dry-erase markers and it comes right off with no problem. Granted, after a few layers you have to wash with some Windex, but that's not a big deal. Now I can keep my prayer list right in front of my face to help me remember, start a shopping list as items run low, and write love notes to my absent husband and mysteriously get notes back in the morning! (OK, so that was a little melodramatic. Sometimes I am still awake when he gets in and we get to snuggle before I start snoring. And most mornings I have to get up before he leaves to get ready for work.)
the notebook -- one year, before dry-erase markers, we kept a notebook by the bed. If there was something on my mind that I was afraid I would forget to tell him, or knew that I wouldn't get a chance to be alone with him for a while, I would write it in the notebook and leave it on his pillow. Then when he got a chance he would write back. This one wasn't near as effective as the markers, but a good idea. And now that both kids can read, somethings are better left where little eyes can't, we might be pulling the notebook back out in the future.

So, thanks for listening. I'll be back next week.
(polite applause and everyone heads to the snack table)

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