Last summer I was busy growing a human and would’ve rather gouged my eyeballs out with a spoon than to wedge myself into a swimsuit and waddle down to the beach. Not to mention that the drive there would take a couple days instead of a couple hours due to the bathroom breaks I would’ve needed. But that’s not the case this summer. Once we got a beach trip on the calendar, I began counting down. I couldn’t wait for how incredible it would be to have our first family vacation, with our Max, and watch him experience the beach for the first time. And this past week, we did just that.
If I’m being honest- it wasn’t exactly what I had planned. My old life (single and kid-free) clashed with my new life (wife and mom, regardless of what state of “vacation” I’m in). I should’ve gotten a clue when I broke into a sweat trying to load the car- my personal bag and a beach towel would’ve never caused such disarray. Clue number 2 should’ve been the thigh jiggles the south GA interstate caused. In the good ole days, before baby body, I was taunt enough to endure the bump bump bump of 75 without noticing—actually I probably slept right through it. But courtesy of our 7 year old and our 9 months old, my eyes stayed open for the majority of the 11 hour trip- each way- I got to turn around a lot, reaching twice my body length for things they dropped but needed, and when it came to the bumps, there wasn’t a limb on my body that wasn’t flapping. Now why south Georgia can’t have smooth interstates like the rest of the country, I’m not sure, but they were courteous enough to section the ridges/ piece of the interstate the same distance a part to make a very nice rhythm and groove. The boys got into it, singing out a single note and holding it for a long time to hear what the bumps did to their voice- kind of like singing to a fan- while I just watched my legs on the dashboard jello around.
Once we finally arrived in Pompano Beach Fl (just north of Fort Lauderdale) we were met by my cousin and her family. They already had their stuff in and situated and met us at the car to unload and move us in. Clue number 3 should’ve been when all of our stuff for 6 days wouldn’t fit on a cart, and was so heavy that it turned the cart over. But I missed that one too. And so the “vacation” began.
Chad and Michael, my cousin’s husband, headed off to golf the first morning, so us moms loaded up the boys (Gabe: 7, Max: 9 months, Caden: 19 months) and all of our stuff and walked to the beach. We walked through the resort, over the beach, and to the water’s edge with 2 umbrellas, 2 umbrella stakes, 2 beach chairs, lots of beach toys, food for the babies, beach towels, a cooler, 2 big floats, and a 25 lb baby that walks slowly and didn’t have much experience on the sand, and a 21 lb baby that can’t walk. By the time we got there, I was smack worn out, dripping sweat, standing on sand that was burning my feet, holding a baby that I couldn’t figure out where to put him down so we could set up. Once we got set up, I sat in my chair dreading the trek back to the room. And then it hit me- this beach trip wasn’t going to look like my past beach trips.
In my old life, I would’ve taken a towel, a book, and maybe a drink. I would’ve been on the beach by 10am, in my new two-piece, and stayed until 4ish, when I would head in for some lunch, a shower, and then a long evening nap. I’d wake just in time for a late dinner. My cheeks would be a little pink from the sun, and the rest of my body golden brown. I would read several books during the course of my vacation, I would listen to my ipod on shuffle and repeat, and I wouldn’t think or communicate with anyone unless absolutely necessary. I would flawlessly avoid getting sand on me or in my suit and I never walked slow enough to know that sand could get hot. I’d people watch and eves drop, I’d cat nap on the beach, take walks along the waters edge, and not be responsible for anything- or anyone. For some reason, I hadn’t even considered that my beach time would look drastically different this time… but man oh man… I can’t even find the right words to describe the clash of reality that happened for me this week.
In my new life, I sit under the umbrella a lot, and because I was constantly coating both boys in SPF 55, I have white splotches all over me from where I accidently dropped some on myself. I was covered in sand and constantly tried to prevent Max from eating it. I did several loads of laundry during my “vacation” and had to plan my beach time around naptime. I changed diapers on the beach and held the wet, sandy baby man in my lap. It was NOT ok to wait until late afternoon for lunch and there were absolutely no skipping of meals. I traded my two-piece for a tankini and I was “that girl” at the pool disturbing everyone’s peace with a squealing baby. Young girls just starred at me (MAX!) and commented repeatedly on how cute he was and that they wanted one. Meanwhile, I coveted their peace and rest and bikini bodies. I had very little beach reading, absolutely no music or else I might’ve missed the boys’ cries for help, and I didn’t close my eyes and lean my chin up to the sun once!
There were these particular 3 girls- probably mid- college- who I saw around a lot. They knew Max well by the end of the stay and I made my first “grumpy old woman” comment—I had hoped it would never be me, I had planned to never be a joy stealer, but at 26 years old, I’ve already failed that mission! The three of them, laying on their stomachs, chairs angled to catch the sun just right, with books in hand, and ear phones in ears, all started talking about how they couldn’t wait to have a baby to bring to the beach and I broke into their conversation and said “I’d do anything to be in your chair right now” and then I swam off to the other side of the pool. Immediately I began scolding myself- how could I be so low—I wanted to go explain myself letting them know that motherhood was the best gig in the world, I just wasn’t feeling very grateful right now. I then felt the need to hug and kiss Max all over so they knew that I did indeed love him to pieces and I played pool games with Gabe hoping to make up for my bad behavior.
That night, when I finally had my emotional break down that had been building all week, Chad said “but I thought this was your dream- to be a wife and a mom.” It’s ironic, isn’t it? I AM what I wanted to be when I grew up- I have an amazing husband and two beautiful, wonderful little boys. But I never thought about the responsibility that went with it. I made a list a while ago about mom’s not getting to take a day off, but for some reason that didn’t apply to the beach. I never noticed how my own mother’s “vacation” looked very different from mine- of course there was someone making sure the towels were dry and that there was food in the fridge and whipping up sandwiches and snacks for lunch. That someone is me now- and I don’t get a day off. I am always responsible for someone else’s life and nutrition and sleep schedule and safety- even when I’m on vacation. I have loved this role for the past 9 months- but this week, while on “vacation”, it was work. And for the first time I had to choose to be a mom- it didn’t come naturally- it didn’t flow from the core of my being. I spent several days resenting those around me who were enjoying what I labeled as “freedom” and “relaxation”- I was right where Satan wanted me- self-centered and mourning the lose of my childhood and singleness by acting like a child.
Thankfully, God gave me another chance, despite my being an idiot. My boys had a great time- and I got to enjoy the rest of the time at the beach with them and appreciate all the “firsts” and sweet moments and sigh at how unbelievably blessed I am.
I have incredible pictures and funny stories from the beach… those will follow as a result of the God-given attitude adjustment that I received before it was too late! :)