I’ve got a group of friends who I met online when Maddy was tiny, using now wildly outdated ways of connecting with like-minded souls such as yahoo groups (before Facebook and Twitter, imagine!). They became real life friends remarkably quickly. We did our first camp together, some of us, when Amelie was 4 months old by which time I’d already met several others of them in person. Since then we’ve stayed at each others houses, shared holidays, become godparents to each others children and much more. We’ve seen each other through tragedy and triumph and waxing and waning fortunes and friendships. In some respects I feel I’ve grown up with them; they are my family of choice and rank up there close to my brother and sister in terms of the people I turn to in a crisis or tell news to first.
I’m incredibly blessed to have them; some of them are the only people who met Freddie, some of them are the only people who came to his funeral, they are people who chose the music and helped write the poem and know my darkest secrets. Among us, this group of people, are women who have been exactly where I am and because of them I am the parent and person I am. I was a very different emerging parent when I first met them and I’m so grateful and glad of the influence they have been on me. And they’ve championed our business, packed and carried boxes on visits in the olden days, bought from me when cash was tight. I’ve tried to do the same in return, though I am not sure I’ve had the opportunity to return all the favours
For the last few years we’ve done a Christmas camp together, getting together to share a few nights of fun and frivolity and friendship before the festivities start. There are always people who can’t go, through work, or school commitments or health, money or distance and this year, I was one of them I was fully paid up and intending to go, but the girls did the panto audition without me fully realising them implications and, because camp was in our busiest business week (so Max couldn’t ferry girls back and forward) and we only have one car, I was then in the position of having to let one pair or another of children down. I was gutted too as last year was a camp I barely made it through, it being filled with happiness when I was desperate and overrun with the latest batch of toddlers and babies who I could barely face. I’d been really looking forward to going this time, even if Fran might have had to stay behind for school.
Thankfully these friends offered (I may have hinted a bit!) to take Maddy and Josie with them and mum and dad them for the week. To my surprise Josie went for this idea without hesitation, not bad for a child who is only just 7 and was a real home bird till recently. Maddy, who basically needs no one but herself, was delighted by the idea, so everyone got to do what they wanted (except me, but I guess that’s a mum’s role at times!)
In the entire week, I spoke to her and Maddy once; they were just having too much fun to bother with tedium like speaking to their parents. According to my friends, they were mostly seen as a passing blur as they whirled between friends. Josie was supposed to come home with one or other temporary head mum on Thursday but didn’t, preferring to stay to the very end – 5 whole nights away from home! She had so much to tell me; long walks, geocaching, dinners, who she played with, what they played – but not a single “I missed you!” I think that’s a good sign
Christmas Camp is characterised (apart from late nights and drinking!) by the Christmas dinner and Secret Santa which is done each year. We had originally had places, so we had pairs to make for (and receive from, thank you!) The girls are all pretty good at making their own now (they have to be handmade or charity shop or under £3) and here are our offerings.
I was charged with making one for the Secret Santa organiser who has just had a very exciting year!
No pressure then! I was very proud of it so you can see more photos and all about it over at my Fimo-Ideas blog if you wish.
I may have missed out this time, but I’m so grateful to my friends for giving my girls a great week, for including me and sending me updates and photos of them and for being people I could absolutely trust to keep them safe and well and happy. Love you all. Can’t be long now till the children are booking these weeks themselves and asking us if we’d like to be parked in the annexe while they stay up late and drink wine without us. I hope so anyway. I’ve got a lot of Christmas camping left in me yet