Spring Break Snippets

This Spring Break we made a trip to a local beach. I grew up vacationing there, so sharing the experience with my children is priceless. Seeing my kids frolic in the same waves, scamper on the same sand, and skip through the same little town I once did is heartwarming. Hearing them say they have the same warm adoration for that little oasis that I do makes my heart swell.

However, any parent who has traveled with children knows that a vacation is not a “vacation” anymore once there are small children involved. Fun? Memorable? Filled with laughter? Yes! Relaxing? Leisurely? Calm? Hahahaha… no.

That is why grabbing hold of blessed bits of beauty and rare fleeting moments of silence amidst the relocated (and at times amplified) chaos is a practice in gratitude and sanity. Here were some of my precious excerpts.

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Breastfeeding my toddler seaside. A rare sweet nursing moment amidst the gymnurstics stage.

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Two whole minutes of blissful silence. Thanks to two kids on Kindles and one kid taking a brief nap. It was short but delightful.

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The excitement upon cresting the dune onto the beach and seeing a gorgeous day ahead.

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We reconnected with beach friends we’d made years ago. Seeing the kids fall right back into their playful rhythm as we chatted happily was heartwarming. I adored my childhood beach friends. Now my children are beginning to experience that loveliness.

Next Year will be Entirely Different

“This year will be tough,” I thought to myself, anticipating the summer beach trips at my mom’s beloved but entirely toddler-unfriendly beach house, “but next year… just wait until next year!” The glass-topped tables, the readily accessible stairs, the breakable lamps attached to tuggable cords, the vulnerable trinkets, the vertical blinds, the unlatched cabinets, the massive canvas painting hung within swatting distance above the sofa, the media console with an array of enticing buttons… so much to safeguard from my bumbling tike. But being at the beach makes it all worthwhile.

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Summer 2016

I envisioned my long, memory-filled, sand-dusted, sun-soaked days wrangling my kindergartener and preschooler while simultaneously chasing my toddler on the beach, at the pool, on the playground, and then at the beach house. I recounted the strain of having no childproofed place I can safely place my littlest so that I can cook dinner, pack the beach cooler, make snacks, go to the bathroom, or just sit for a beat. I remembered how I woke up every day at 6AM on vacation and popped him — wailing — into the pack-and-play so that I could wearily pump, set out breakfasts, and pack for the day’s beach excursion before the rest of the house awoke. I remembered the sinking dread I felt at the prediction of a rainstorm that would keep us trapped inside.

This year, I’ll have to wean from pumping before we take our trips and I’ll have to wear him whenever we’re in the house, because a pack-and-play will no longer stand as an impeding obstacle to my athletic tot. I will be on duty from wake-up to bedtime. I will enjoy it. I will treasure it. I will end the season with a multitude of photos and a plethora of cherished memories. I will be exhausted in the best and most depleting way. “Just push through this year,” I reassured myself, “next year will be entirely different.”

Then it struck me: next year will be entirely different. It will be easier, but next year they’ll all be older. My herd will be 7, 5, and 3. 7… 7-years old! The better part of a decade? And my middle son a burgeoning kindergartener?? No more baby? No more toddler? Tears welled. My throat grew tight. They’re growing too fast! Make it stop!

Sure, life will still be loud and chaotic, because that is our familial heartbeat. Vacations will still be life relocated. I will still fight the descent into anarchy by planning and packing, scheduling and routine. My “vacation” will happen each night during the two hours between the kids’ bedtime and my own. I will, no doubt, still referee and soothe, corral and amuse, but I won’t be needed in that primal way. That exhausting, rewarding, wholly taxing manner that both fills the soul and drains all mental capacity.

And with that I stopped coaching myself to “just push through this year” but, instead, to savor it. Because next year will be entirely different.