While my mind starts centering around fall, football, the holidays and all things pumpkin, there is another main event that stirs with excitement in the atmosphere of our home…the opening of deer season.
Before my husband and I ever officially started dating, the only thing I knew about him (besides that he was gorgeous, duh) was that he had one huge passion: hunting. It’s not a passion that we share – though not for his lack of trying – but it is something I have grown to love FOR him, as I’ve learned to understand the importance of it in our lives. My husband hunts for sport, and one thing I have learned through the seasons we’ve spent together is that while our family does not depend on his skill for our survival–our marriage does.
Every November, I spend a few days preparing to send him off to deer camp. Going to camp with his father, brother and uncle has been a tradition much longer than I have been in the picture, and it’s one of the only gifts I ever feel he absolutely NEEDS. My husband is a very selfless man. He works tirelessly at not only his profession, but also at being an amazing spouse and father. And for that, sending him off for some “guy time” even one week out of the entire year is something that changes the entire dynamic of our next season of life together. A (sometimes much needed) “reset button” for our busy lives, if you will.
Deer camp sounds horrible to me. I have zero desire to camp out for a week, where the entire time centers around…well, deer. It’s the only time of the year that my husband is up well before the sun, and spends the next 12+ hours in/out of a tree. Limited cell service, no delicious smelling lotion or perfume, strict rules on talking (or lack thereof), and the potential of either extreme heat or cold. Ew. Noooo thank you. For my husband though? It’s one of the closest things to heaven for him.
You see, although I don’t suspect I would personally ever enjoy the sport, I am not blind to the beauty of it. I DO love nature, and being “one” with the elements just does something for the soul. When my husband is gone, he has plenty of time to ponder upon many of our life’s gifts and blessings. Our marriage, our sons, and -most often- his relationship with God. When he’s holding his precious bow (or what I like to refer to as his “weapon of choice”) and awaiting that perfect buck to enter his line of sight, he doesn’t have much else to do BUT think about those things. It is his personal time of reflection, and to me, there is nothing greater in this world that I could give him than that time for himself.
When my husband has this short period of time alone, he has the opportunity to really be his happiest self. Sure, he misses his family, but don’t we all sometimes crave that temporary distance, in the all too often mundane schedules of our every day lives? During that week apart, we actually grow closer. While I am home alone as a “single mom”, I grow to appreciate even more how much he does for our family -and am also reminded of how lucky I am to have him as our fearless leader. Meanwhile, 150-ish miles away, he continues to grow as a man and is reminded of how much he actually loves giving our toddler a bath or other daily chores.
Hunting in our family is about tradition. It is a time for the men to gather and catch up on life. To listen to each other, offer advice if asked, and encourage each other in their journeys as husbands and fathers/grandfathers. While I selfishly cannot wait for my sons to be old enough to leave with daddy for a week and give mama the house to herself for ALL THE BUBBLE BATHS and trashy reality t.v. marathons, it’s so much more than that. I relish in the fact that they soon will get to share in this precious time of bonding and entrance in to their own manhood. That while they are gone, they will learn about themselves, as well as about some of the most important men in their lives. When all of my “boys” return home, I will be proud of the men they are returning as–fresh faced and full of a renewed spirit for life.
These are the best of times, and although I miss them already just thinking about those years in the future, I am not blind to the irony of the sport that I “love to hate”…they might return as stronger men, but for the week or more that I am without my guys, I also become a better woman.