Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Testing Our Limits

There are days when I pack up snacks and both babes, and head to the beach. The sun is shining, warm on my neck as I soak up as much as I can while shielding the delicate new skin of my son from exposure. The sun hat falls in his face constantly, and I simultaneously adjust it to improve its effectiveness while wondering if it's worth the effort. 

Meanwhile, my daughter plays. She sheds her rubber boots and galavants in the creek that feeds into the ocean, stepping on the rocks and letting the water  run over her toes, crouching to examine the details and letting her skirt soak up cold water like a sponge--a reality she wont realize until she stands minutes later. She climbs the boulders and slides down their slanted fronts, proclaiming "Wheee!" for her own entertainment, looking up to confirm that I'm still nearby before getting lost in her own world once again.

In these moments I wonder why we ever go to the playground, why we ever choose anything but the ocean shore for entertainment.

Then, there are days when we pack everything up and head to the beach only to find that the wind is colder than it seemed at home, the temperature much more brisk. My daughter still sheds her boots, and this time her shorts as well--since they will surely get wet anyway. She digs in the sand with her shovel while I huddle under the towel for warmth, my son curled against me wrapped tightly in the blanket I brought for him. I tilt the brim of my hat against the chill and watch as she kicks a ball around, intermittently coming over for a snack or to ask for assistance in going to the bathroom. Then, for no reason I can see, she declares, "All done." She's cold--an unsurprising declaration given that she's been frolicking around in the sand in a t-shirt and underwear for nearly an hour. We pull on her boots and shorts and trek back. I'm disappointed our efforts to get out were so short-lived, but also impressed we lasted so long given the conditions. 

In these moments I wonder why I put forth the effort; it took as long to prepare and gather and get out the door as it did to sit and (not) enjoy the sun and sand and waves. 

Occasionally a friend or acquaintance will comment to me that they are impressed I am out: to dinner, to the beach, to the park in the rain, to track practice, to run with a double jogger. I feel the same way when I see photos of friends on facebook and Instagram: out camping with their toddler and baby, road trips with three kids and without a spouse for hours on end, climbing a mountain with a baby on their back. I guess we all have our limits, and we all have our needs. I need to get out--to the beach, or the park, or the track. Fresh air--with or without rain--keeps me sane...even as the effort of getting there may occasionally make me crazy.


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