It has been a few weeks since we returned from vacation and last Wednesday, I text Jim asking if he was ready to go back. I told him I could be ready by 5 pm to leave. We chuckled because as much as we would love to, life isn’t that simple. But I literally started working the day I returned from beach and felt like the running has not stopped. Dental appointments, work, speech therapy, occupational therapy, etc… I have been surviving in the one day at time mode. Which, is fine in some areas of life, but not so great when running and juggling work and family and self. Guess where the juggling fails? Generally first self, then family, and last my work. I know that is NOT how it should be, but can honestly tell you that is how it goes.
The beautiful thing about the beach is it places everything into perspective — live a simple life with minimal “stuff” for one week as a family. There is no work to focus on. Only things to deal with is admiring God’s beautiful creation AND our beautiful family. I was able to focus on the positive qualities of my husband without all the daily demands – like him swimming in the indoor pool with the kids, making sandcastles in the sand with Sam, taking Sam into the deeper water, defending our family when we were not being recognized at a restaurant, and never loosing his cool (except when defending our family). I was able to focus on letting Mary be a little more responsible and loosening my control, and that is FAR from easy. I was able to focus a lot of time with Sam because Mary didn’t really need me and Jim gets in his “beach zone”. We built big pits for dinosaurs with tunnels and waterfalls. We hung out at the playground areas, etc… I was also able to reconnect with my best friend from childhood and her two sons. Amazing times!
But even life at the beach was not perfect, even though I so wanted a perfect vacation. One issue consumed parts of my first days there. It takes a lot to get to the there with me, because I am usually one who believes suck it up and move on… or figure out in the big picture it isn’ that big of deal… or no one is going to steel my joy because then they win. But I let it. I let something that was out of my control take control over my thoughts. I let my disappointment from someone else’s choices consume me. Let’s just say communication is imperative in life. I finally exploded and let it all out and chose NOT to let it consume me and our vacation. I was in a beautiful place with my wonderful family, but my mind and heart was overshadowed at first. When going on vacation, it is important to leave bad and heavy luggage and life issues at home!
The second issue was with a slap of reality. I know our son’s quirks, but it is not until I see him with other kids his age that the quirks are magnified. Unfortunately, in the wrong groups, those quirks are magnified to kids and he becomes a target. Almost daily I became a bouncer in some sort of situation. I so wanted to let my guard down and believe that bullies just didn’t exist at the beach. One day a little boy, who reminded my of Sam and his quirks, started talking to him and they were doing great re-enacting Sponge Bob… until the bigger brother came along and was really mean to his little brother and to Sam. Well, that quickly ended. The day we were at the pirate ship and it was four boys who thought they could push him in the sand and he could always be “it”. Sometimes I would just feel the tears trickle.
A couple things stood out at the beach for me. The one day as Jim and Sam built a sand castle they were a little too close to the tide and it would come in and wipe out parts of the castle. Some days that would have led to meltdowns, but that day, Sam just kept building with his dad. The foundation of the castle remained intact even as the waves crashed in and knocked a wall down. I PRAY that our family will always be that firm foundation for our children. When the waves of life come crashing in on their hopes and dreams, that the foundation we have created stands firm in their lives. I pray that we can be there to help them rebuild the walls time and again.
Another lesson was my search for shells. I love the broken ones just as much as they are usually smoothed out from crashing in the sand time and again. Most of my shells I found were broken, but beautiful. So many times, I want the perfect life without the crashing waves and without getting rammed into the sand time after time. I definitely hate to watch my children endure bullies who crash their spirits and ram them time and again. However, I PRAY that the waves do not leave scars on me or my children, but build our character and make us smooth and beautiful.
Of note, I did find one huge perfect shell one day. I had seen the shell but initially thought it was a crab (we saw a few of those too), because I had never seen that large of a shell in the ocean in Virginia Beach. When I realized it was a shell, I kept my eyes open and tried a couple times to capture it, including getting wiped out on my face once by a wave. It disappeared and then Sam and I went out in the water and as we were out past the waves crashing I felt something large under my foot (of note yelled thinking a creature). Then realized it was a shell – the very one I had my eye on. Amazing! When I was looking for it, I remember how many other shells I let passed by and they may have just been as beautiful. How many times in my life do I get so focused on one thing / end result / solution, that I may in fact miss something even more beautiful / better / perfect for my life?
The last lesson for this blog is that even the smallest of prayers are heard. I mentioned in my last post that sometimes I feel like asking for prayers when others are going through so much is hard. Anyway, Sam had decided to take 2 Spidermen to the beach and we dug our huge hole with tunnels, etc… When it was time to go back to the hotel, he realizes he is missing one. Okay… it is fourth of July, the beach is packed people to people, and he has NO idea where he lost it at first. After the melting down, he explains a tunnel we had dug had crashed in. Jim and I dug frantically and never found him. Back the room was a broken heart boy, a frustrated dad, and a defeated mom. I even prayed while digging that we could find it. I was prepared to order a new one and have shipped to the hotel (no parental judgment about just teaching him a lesson to take better care of his toys). I had been the one who told him they would be okay to bring to the beach and felt horrible. I also sort of felt defeated because my prayer was unanswered at that time and God, I believe, knows exactly how hard it is for Sam. The next day, Sam had NO desire to head to the beach, but eventually gave in. As we were setting up our tent, I looked over to the left and thought I saw something red in the sand. I walked over and brushed off a layer of sand and found SPIDERMAN! (of note, I found my big shell that same day and Jim said we should have gone to play the lotto – lol. To me, finding Spiderman was better than winning the lottery!). I learned He hears our prayers… and knew exactly how and when to answer… I need to learn to work on my mustard seed faith!
So blessed to go to the beach… and so blessed to reflect on that time. Until next year (unless I can convince Jim otherwise)….