I took my kids to the beach last week, just for the day. It was the first time I’d ever driven myself to the beach.
We threw some towels, some food and a couple of pails and shovels in the car and drove to the ocean. It was quite the day. I even described it to a few people as “Quite possibly the most perfect day I’ve ever had.”
What did we do? Not a whole lot. We sat in the sun, played in the sand, got wet in the ocean and ate sandy peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Logan found some other kids to play with. Brodie found some seagulls to yell at. I found a nice place to soak up sun and watch my kids play and yell at birds.
I left my cell phone in the car. I left my Nook in the car. The only electronic I took was my camera.
Part of the perfection was that it was just me and my kids. There was no one else with us. I like other people. Sometimes it’s fun to take other people with you on adventures. Sometimes though, it’s nice for it to be just me and my kids. No one else's kids, no one else’s time schedule, no one else’s agenda, no one to double check my parenting. (Do you think he needs a hat? Do you think he’s okay? Do you think he’s wearing enough sunscreen? Do you think it’s safe for him to eat that sand? Drink that saltwater? Stick that straw up his nose?)
When we were hungry, we ate. When we were tired, we rested. When we were done, we came home. I never got irritated. They never got cranky. No one got sunburned or died of saltwater/sand overdose.
On the way home, they both power napped and then we spent the rest of the drive listening to the Toddler Tunes station on Pandora and singing Itsy-Bitsy, The Wheels on the Bus and Shake the Sillies Out.
It was an excellent recharge that was desperately needed, for all three of us.
We’ve had a busy last couple of months. I went back to school, my baby sister got married, Jeremy and I separated and he moved a few blocks away. My in-laws came to stay a week (post-separation) and Logan graduated from Kindergarten. We’ve had homework and vacation bible school. We’ve had strep throat and wicked rashes. We’ve ditched night-time pants and started working on not peeing the bed (Logan, not me. I quit peeing the bed a few years ago).
It’s been a time of adjustment, transition and evaluation. I’ve been learning what I’m made of. I’ve been learning what they’re made of. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking and praying and watching to make sure they weren’t going to break. To make sure I wasn’t going to break. To make sure I actually believed that in order to be the best me, the best mom, I had to be happy even if that meant some stuff that was sticky and uncomfortable and hard.
At one point, while I was lying on my towel, trying to keep the sand Brodie was “shoveling” around out of my mouth and eyes, I remembered something I read when I first found Kurt Vonnegut. The article was actually called, “15 Things Kurt Vonnegut Said Better Than Anyone Else Ever Has or Will”
One of the 15 went like this:
"I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, 'If this isn't nice, I don't know what is.'"
So, I noticed that I was. And I murmured.
And it was quite possibly the most perfect day I’ve ever had.