Living the Dream — and Not.

For four summers running now, my youngest daughter, her very closest friend, and I go camping every summer on Burton Island, far north on Lake Champlain. The lake is noticeably cleaner than it was four years ago; the girls are definitely older. We recount the year the raccoons ate our food and the year I forget the stove. This year became the year we forgot the tent poles. The girls fashioned a tent from a tarp and rope.

Always, this island enchants me with its summertime mystique, the fluff of seeding trees wafting like fairy confetti in the warm breeze. We’re never eaten too badly by bugs. The girls drink a crazy amount of hot chocolate.

I wake up early in the mornings and read by the lake — this chilly year in my jeans — watching the loons and the ducks with their offspring.

It’s both sweetly idyllic — how could such innocent happiness not be? — and simultaneously not idyllic at all. I write this not to draw attention to my own particular family scenario, but because so much of social media pushes families to believe that everyone is living that glossy, idyllic life. So, in my family, we are, and we aren’t. And I’m darn glad for every bit that we are.

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Age 14