Monday, September 8, 2014

It is well with my soul

There's just something about the ocean.

A vacation with four little kids is really less of a vacation and more of a temporary relocation. But when that relocation lands a beach in your backyard, it is balm for a weary soul.

And mine has been so weary of late.

I stood in the sand and cried as I watched my kids run with wild abandon up and down the shoreline upon our arrival.

Tears of release. I felt the stress of so many doctor's appointments and worries and fears and what-ifs begin to melt away. This week would be one of enjoying my family, and little else.

Tears of relief. God knew what he was doing when he brought us to this spot at this time. He knew we would need this respite, and that we would need it precisely right now.

Tears of joy. I could not help but recall that it was upon this sand last year that Levi took his first shaky baby steps. As the last "what-if" slipped from my mind, I uttered a prayer of thanks that he is with us this year, running at top speed, chasing waves as they crash against the shore. I hope I will never take these little moments for granted again. Life is too precious, too precarious, too fleeting.

And then I dried my tears, because someone had sand in her eyes, and someone else needed to go inside to go potty, and someone else was peeing in the ocean and needed to be reminded that, no, you can't just pull your pants down wherever you want to. And that's pretty much how things went for the duration of our time at Folly Beach.

There were a few moments of excitement that interrupted what became, for a few days, our new normal.

There was the birthday party for the seven-year-old whose one and only birthday request was that we celebrate with sparklers on the beach. Wish granted. Her dear friend Neely was there with her family, and Aunt Sarah and Uncle Ryan joined us with Abby's favorite baby cousin. And as a bonus, Nana and Granddaddy showed up and joined in the festivities.

There was the hunting and gathering of so many things that washed up on shore, the highlight of which may have been this starfish that Jacob was determined to keep as a pet. His sister rightly convinced him to return it to the ocean before he killed it. In other news, we logged a full week of school while we were at the beach, since this kind of up close investigation of marine life totally counts as science.

There were all those times I tried desperately to get a picture of all four of my adorable children at once, but failed because they're children, and there are four of them, and something always gets in the way. Popsicle breaks should be a perfect photo op, but Caleb suffers from chronic brain freeze, and to be honest, no one is interested in smiling at me when there are popsicles to be eaten. One of these days we'll get this right.

There was lots and lots and lots of digging and building and excavating and demolition of sand structures. Because earth moving is serious business, and with three boys to do it, lots of progress can be made in very little time. Caleb and Jacob took seriously their task of instructing Levi in the ways of sandcastle-building and hole-digging with careful instructions like "Stop throwing sand!" and "Don't step on it!"

And while her brothers were hard at work on shore, this girl was spending hours in the water perfecting her boogie boarding skills. In a repeat of last year's shenanigans, she coaxed her dad out into the waves at every possible moment. As a bonus, no one got stung by a jellyfish this year.

There was the day Justin tried to catch a shark for Caleb and ended up reeling in this 4-foot-wide sting ray with a tail as long as our daughter is tall. The fight to bring him to shore lasted over and hour and a half, and the sea creature dragged my hubby more than a half mile down the beach before it was over. He drew quite a crowd once he got it into the surf. It wasn't quite as cool as catching a shark, but Caleb was still a little impressed.

There was the night that Abby lost her second tooth, and the tooth fairy forgot she had a job to do. "Tooth fairy didn't come," said Abby, joining me in the bathroom we shared when I got up the next morning. "Not to worry," I assured her, slipping a quarter under her pillow as she looked on. "We can fix that."

There was so much creative play, because truly, that is the thing my kids do best. They planted forests of driftwood on the beach, dodged hot lava waves as they crashed on shore, pretended to be sharks chasing mermaids, and imagined great big vehicles driving along the sandy roads they'd constructed. There was no stopping their imaginations this week, and no desire to, either. It was glorious to watch them play freely with all the free time in the world to just play.

Mostly, we woke with the sun, ate a quick breakfast and hit the beach by 8:30 a.m. Which meant that we were pretty worn out by mid-morning, making for a perfect excuse to take a popsicle break before heading back out for a bit before lunch and naps. (And oh, what glorious naps these children took at the beach! All of them, every day. It was fabulous.) After naps it was more of the same until dinner, and often there was enough time and energy left to hit the beach one more time before bed.

And sometimes the eldest two even had the opportunity to sneak out and hunt for crabs after dark with their dad. Because he's awesome like that. And we were on beach time, so bedtime was really kind of arbitrary anyway.

Was it more than a little awesome? Yes. Was it refreshing? Indeed. Are we already counting down to next year?


1 comment:

  1. I was blessed by reading this. Encouraged to hear of your time at the beach (rest and renewal is a beautiful thing) and still smiling at the photo of the four--with Caleb's "brain freeze". Marvelous.