Mothering at the beach presents some fun, some challenge.
Today I floated sideways on a raft with my youngest son, kicking against the current until a wave came and then flipping us back toward the beach to float with any wave that came out way.
Today I watched as our oldest son got too cocky out in the water with an older cousin and found himself on his boogie board out past where he could touch. Thankfully he was right near my mother who helped him until my husband made it out and pulled him back in to shore—for safety, for a serious talk about how we have rules about how far they’re allowed to go out for a reason, for a time out in his beach chair.
Yesterday I watched as my husband and father pulled the boys by on their boogie boards, sending them tumbling and laughing into the surf.
Yesterday I watched as my oldest son showed no fear, diving into the waves over and over and over again. I marveled at how he has changed since this time last year.
Today I carried six chairs down to the beach before our normal beach time so that I could ensure our entire multi-generational vacationing family could have the primo spot of the day.
Today I slipped into a new bikini, one I purchased yesterday. I pulled at the bottoms looking at my reflection in the mirror. I almost second guessed myself until I paused to feel how comfortable the suit felt on my body. I looked briefly at my stretch marks, extra white against the slight pink from the sun exposure the previous day. I smiled; I earned those marks.
Today I watched as my sons played with a cousin the same age as their sister; my heart broke as I thought about what it would look like if things had been different.
Today I watched as my sister-in-law stood in the waves, her eleven month old falling asleep in her arms. I remembered that phase of parenting. I felt nostalgic for a moment, asking my husband if he missed that phase—the water slapping, sand eating, happy giggling phase of the newness of the beach. Then we laughed the laugh of parents sitting in their chairs while their children figured out how to float on their 1980’s style raft.
Today I watched as two tired afternoon boys argued over the big shovel, one swinging the shovel at the other. I simply pointed at the one who swung the shovel and pointed at the chair—the same chair used earlier for time out. Then we packed up all of the things—the toys, the chairs I carried by myself earlier, the cooler, the towels, the everything of beaching with children—and walked back to the beach house.
We showered the children, clothed them in clean, dry clothes, and set them down with The Lego Movie so they could relax away from the sun for just a little while. I showered the excess sun block, salt, and sand from my body, dressed myself in clean dry clothes, and settled down with a book for a little while. Later, we had dinner, we had snacks, and then bed time rolled around. As I tucked them in, one said to me, “Today was the best day ever.”
And the other one said, “Yes, thank you, mommy.”
And somewhere between the time out and the floating, the bad and the good, the exhausted and sand covered and delicious food and beautiful beach breeze, I came into my own. Somewhere on a beach in North Carolina, I felt okay with who I am, right now, as a mother.