“I didn’t put any deodorant on!” I announced as we pulled out of the hotel parking lot. Jason just checked us out for our hotel room at the beach on Galveston Island and we were on our way to the sand and waves. I absolutely love the beach and earlier was beginning to get anxious summer would fly by and we’d never get a chance to soak it in. The beach was something I had done every summer since I was probably 16. Often more than once. Living in Pennsylvania, close to the coast allowed that. I was the biggest beach bum.
As Jason drove away, he lifted his elbow and sniffed his pit. “Me neither.”he laughed and then proceeded to make chicken noises flapping his arm. The other evening we came across the chicken dance song, I had grabbed Gavin and showed him how the dance is done with Jason watching. We both laughed at the memory and at his goofiness now.
This morning our kids were up at 7:30. In our haste to make quick decisions about the schedule of our day, a mindless morning routine was missed. Actually Jason might have remembered had he had some along. We didn’t take time to stop and buy deodorant on the way down. But I had no excuse, so I blame the kids.
Three years ago my beach experience forever changed. Lounging in my beach chair has transpired into dutiful nursing. Being a bum has been replaced with being busy with babies. If I would have heard that a family took their 3 year old and 10 month old to the beach as a single gal, I would have thought ‘how fun! I hope to take my children some day too…’
Fun has a new meaning. It requires constant watching and/or entertaining. Our toddler enjoys playing with someone and the near walker is still baby enough to need a hand held while walking, chased while crawling and mouth swooped periodically. If comparing that life to a single’s carefree beach trip, we’re talking two very different ‘fun’ definitions.
One has the joy of sitting in a chair, relaxing and reading; maybe communing with God.
The other has the joy of seeing the oceans delight of sand and waves on their little children’s faces.
Life. is. just. different. with. kids. Period. They can be tiring and I am still getting used this truth in my somewhat-new-mom-life. Hey, I was kidless longer than I’ve been a mom. I had my first baby at age 29. So for me this takes some getting used too. Kids come in a heavy weight package of responsibility wrapped with weariness and a bright bow of joy.
I’m a mom. A mom for life. Three fast years in and still getting used to my role; the places and situations I find myself in. The surprising strong emotions burning in me and the words I hear myself say. I’m still warming up to my voice and the daunting power it holds. Staring in the mirror, I hold my reflection’s eye. That’s me, I tell myself. Your a big mama now.
After we were married a while, I grew tired of my working, quiet, clean life. Something was missing. I wanted children. My expectations for babies snuggled next to easy, just like babysitting. That’s how my brain works. It unrealistically sees just the fun side to everything. No details. Just pure enthusiasm and dancing sunbeams. I never imagined how weary-filled mothering would be or how fast my hair would turn on me. My energy for fun has dwindled with my own kids. Something I else I didn’t foresee happening.
How is it we want what we don’t have. Then when we get what we want we still aren’t satisfied?
Two sweet peas later, my engine has been caught on E and my word less than sugar countless times. Not only because of chaotic vacations, but also just the day-to-day, in my pjs til noon, taking care of others, searching to balance my wants, with need-filled children. This is overwhelming and frustrating.
Overwhelming because I want to be an adult person not just a mom.
Frustrating because there is not a lot of margin for that to happen.
The idea of spending all my time wrapped up in my children, getting lost in them and having no life apart from therir basic needs, scares me. I long for an mature adult life. Daily I wrestle do I fight for my me-time or just piddle with kids all day. Because when I try to do my thing it often gets interrupted. I’ve discovered that I could spend 24 hours straight with my children and still, it would not be enough. They would demand more.
I want to have a life outside of motherhood. Not all business-like, climbing the corporate ladder and such. More like my writing (blogging here) going back to teaching, or in ministry – impacting and helping others. Making a difference in a small corner. Be needed for adulty matters. Do something useful beyond making hot dogs and wiping small dirty mouths.
On the flip side, I want to spend each special moment with my children. I want to watch them grow and change. I want to hold them, show them new things and see their eyes light up with discovery and wonder. I want to be their mom who goes through difficulties with them and see them through to the other side. I want to tell them about Jesus and who He is to me. I want to tell them stories of when they were little. I want ALL. THOSE. THINGS.
My soul climate is a hurricane that wanes and wildly whirls. Me or my children? I know down the road when my children mature from babies and toddlers to little big people, maybe then I can enjoy a book at the beach while they play together, or go back to work teaching or pursue my writing dreams full force.
This is just a season, right?
The whirlwind of me or my kids won’t last forever, right?
Or does it…
Our time at the beach ended up being just right for our little family. With our early risers, we were on the beach mid-morning with the most delightful weather and pleasant, not-to-hot-yet sun. We splashed and swam in the refreshing waves. Then Cali napped for about an hour and by the time she woke, the sun was high and hot and Gavin was tired so we packed everything, found a super secret spot to shower off and then hit the long road home.
The beach can be fun even if it doesn’t look the same way it used to. It’s true. If you open yourself up to receive a different way, as unfamiliar or uncomfortable as it might be, joy is there waiting to be found; like seashells buried in the sand.
For our little family, the short beach vaca was absolutely perfect.
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