To fly as fast as thought to anywhere that is now – you begin by knowing that you have already arrived…
-Jonathan Livingston Seagull
We were in Florida all week on vacation, enjoying the sun and sand on Captiva Island. I’ve been once again struck by how much I enjoy being with my children, even at their lowest points (and even on vacation, we had a few!). I am continuously in awe that I am the mother of two beautiful girls and a wonderful son. I believed from the get-go that I would have only boys and be denied the mother-daughter relationship that I so desired. At the same time, I couldn’t really envision raising a son, yet now I can’t imagine my life without him. I reminded myself of that today when he had to be extradited from sitting beside his sisters on the way to the airport because he could not restrain himself from continuously telling them that they smelled.
Much of our vacation was spent on the beach. I love the beach more than I love my house, and would be perfectly content spending each day of the entire summer sitting in a chintzy beach chair eating a sandy sandwich and watered-down lemonade for twelve weeks straight. This vacation was the easiest we’ve had so far with the kids. My children need me less and less throughout each day. We collected some amazing shells and did some great swimming, but they were also content entertaining themselves for hours at the hotel water slide.
In the company of my niece who is just 18 months old and was on the trip as well, I found myself thinking about the fact that when Hadley was born, Whitney was not yet four. Tom was just 20 months, a plump toddler who was still mastering walking. I remember so many days wondering if my overwhelming schedule would allow me the most basic human hygiene such as applying deodorant or actually using the bathroom (alone) with the door shut. I’ve never felt more in the weeds in my entire life as I did in those early weeks after Hadley was born.
The parallel between the stages of their lives and the ever-changing tides is so clear for me. As high tide approaches, you worry the undertow will knock you down, or drag something you can’t bear to part with back out to sea. The waves rush in, surprising you, crashing onto the beach, and then they quietly recede. For a moment, everything feels calm, and then the next wave comes in with a monumental crash. Motherhood often feels this way for me. Some days the changing tides feel welcome. I often look forward to seeing what the next stage will bring us as the memories of the last milestone wash away. During other times, like this past week together, I wish the landscape of our lives could just stay frozen in time.