“I guess you can just stay in the condo and I will go to the beach all by myself!”, I said as my child threw himself across the bed in our condo. I took the doughnuts and myself upstairs, and sat down to have a good cry. My mom, forever my therapist, listened to me, reminded me that I am doing ok as a mama, and encouraged me to just take myself to the beach with my book and spend some time alone. Preposterous. What kind of mother saves up all year to take her child on vacation and then sits on the beach by herself for two hours reading a book?? An insanely smart one, that’s who.
My mom also reminded me of some of the vacations we took when I was a child where she or my dad would lose their cool, after saving up all year to take us somewhere in our giant station wagon. The funny thing is, I don’t remember the bad, stressful times at all, I remember how much fun we had (I also remember some crazy fights with my brother in the car…my dad swears we would sleep angelically until we got to a large city in busy traffic).
So off I went to the beach by myself. I grabbed a book, some sunscreen and some water and couldn’t find a single spot without what looked like ridiculously happy families, not exactly who I wanted to be around in the midst of my pity party. I grabbed a book I bought earlier this summer but hadn’t read yet, “Unglued” by Lysa TerKeurst. As I sat down to read I realized that every mama on vacation needs to read this book, as well as every mama trying to hold it together not on vacation.
The family to my left was chattering and happy, gathering up jellyfish (eek) from the ocean and talking about their day. I saw a mom and son on a paddleboard in the distance, and even more families posing for pictures. I read on, trying to beat those words into my head and just breathe. I spend so much time trying to focus on raising a good, healthy little man who sometimes I forget he is little. It’s just me and him so often that I forget he is just a little boy, and he is allowed to be a crab and have human emotions (human emotions that are sometimes not so nice to be around). I continued reading as God softened my heart (and my mama texted me to say Cole was just fine), and took myself into the ocean a couple of times by myself, which surely was jellyfish free by this point, judging from the buckets full of them to my left.
It was then that God opened my eyes. I noticed the family to my right with a three year old screaming at the top of her lungs, scared of the water. She was there yesterday. Her mama looked so weary. I imagined she was feeling the same as me, having saved her money and planned for this fun family time, hoping to put so many positive memories in those little memory banks. I saw a family with a child with special needs, and the child was struggling with the heat and the sand. That mama, also looked so tired. Finally that happy little family to my life seemed a little more real to me, the oldest child refused to go back into the water, and the next child started crying about being hot. The final two dumped those jellyfish onto the hot sand, much to the distress of the mother (they then busted into tears). The mother pleaded with them “Please stop crying, we are on vacation.”. I exchanged eye contact with her, a kind of non verbal fist bump. After her kids finally went into the water, since she urged them to do so, I heard her telling them to stop bothering the people around them, I told her, “my own child is up in the condo with my parents!! I feel you, sister”. She said “I KNOW IT. I am gonna need a vacation from my vacation after this. I have been sitting here jealous of your alone time”. Isn’t it funny how we are as women? I had been sitting there in the beginning, thinking of all the happy families surrounding me, and how much fun they were having, but we are all the same.
I went back upstairs and was greeted by a sweet little smiling face. He was over it long before I was, and then we went to the pool together. I am always so thankful for my mess (since there is always a message in my mess, God has to get through my bull head sometimes through object lessons). We have so enjoyed our time together, but are also looking forward to our next big adventure right around the corner, third grade. Happy end of the summer to you and yours.