“Lilly put down that dead fish! No-SERIOUSLY put the dead fish down!”
“Finny- you are way too far out in the water. Come closer. Can you hear me?! TOO DEEP!”
They both look at me, half smirks- tempting my seriousness even though I feel I’ve been pretty clear. I stand and go to them, talk and come back. I’m in a constant battle within myself to give them full freedom and realizing they would likely drown or get some awful fish disease if I didn’t intervene.
This cycle is on repeat for most of the afternoon, both Sarah and I alternating in an orchestra of firm but kind instruction. We spoke in fractured statements over the conditions of our hearts, lives, and of those we love. In the few rare moments of silence we could hear multiple languages being spoken along the shore from where we sat. I miss this, I thought. I miss the diversity/familiarity of this beach and friends who know me without any striving or second-guessing.
The history between us; grief, heartache, anxiety, joy, celebration, worry, relief, and laughter are somewhat like the sand between my toes, and the water that washes them clean. It’s a combination of therapeutic exfoliation, and healing restoration. She is pirate treasure for my soul, and I wish I could take her with me back home.
We scrubbed fish guts, sand and who knows what off our shivery kid’s bodies, then agreed that it’s getting easier. Like how we know to pack up and leave before the meltdown, and how we pack snacks and water to prevent “hanger”. How we can give our kids more and more leash to explore and enjoy watching their curiosity unfold in castle play and dump trucks.
With each stage of independence gained, another strand of freedom releases for me. Driving home past fields of marshmallow hay rounds I slowly remember not to wish away their smallness, incapability or inclination towards danger. I’m still a superhero to them and eyes wide like theirs won’t look back at me like this for long. Eyes that both trust and loathe my authority. Their sweet hands that still voluntarily hold mine- so small. Yes, savor and don’t wish away.
A minor shoulder sunburn on my right side reveals the evidence of a day well spent. Rubbing lotion over the tender space I marvel over the wonder of our day. The lack of epic emotional meltdowns, the way I parented my kids with patience (pat on the back- yay me), and the people I spent it with. All of this rare and all of it fully appreciated.
(I have a policy to NOT bring my real camera to the beach so all of these are cell phone pics, just so ya know)