We’ve had Singing Beach up north in Manchester on our summer fun list for a few years in a row and this year we finally made it there. It’s a beautiful beach you can ride the train (commuter rail) to. The kids had never been on the commuter rail, so they were pretty excited. And, the fact that we went with some good friends made them positively wild with excitement. Really. Wild. For the moms it was a crazy whirlwind of a day with very few moments to sit and breath. I think that every single moment of the day at least one of the 10 kids that were with us was either in peril (huge waves at the beach, raised train platforms, fast cars whizzing by etc), disturbing the peace with wildness or needing something urgently. That gave Heidi, Erica and me very little time to relax and enjoy each other or the beauty of the beach. I think once we all gave up on that being part of the agenda we all had a pretty good day. And boy was it memorable. One of those days that you are just kind of happy you survived.
The kids didn’t notice all the chaos one bit. They were all blissfully in their own worlds, living it up with silliness, sand, food, friends, high adventure and moms who patiently (for the most part) navigated them through it all. Ahh, to be a kid. The train ride was wild and loud. As soon as we took our spots row after row of people started clearing out. By the end we almost had ourselves a private car. I don’t blame those people. We were making quite a ruckus.Just look at all that blurry commotion. Once we finally made it to the beach and got our stuff set up (oh, how your arms hurt after hauling all that and kids to a clear spot on the beach!) the kids went straight for the water. The first 10 minutes there was sheer madness…..huge waves and kids either totally freaking out in fear or freaking their moms out by their lack of fear. It just took a few kids getting swept under for a few seconds to help them all loose interest in the water and turn their energies towards the sand. Oh, sweet relief. Erica and Heidi watched my kids for a few minutes so that I could go get cooled off in the water (I was HOT as can be with all that work and worry). The ocean felt amazing. I love that buoyant feeling of the ocean – cold water swallowing up your heat, salt water on hot skin. For sixty full blessed seconds I laid on my back, floating, watching the sky, feeling the sun on my face. With my ears underwater I couldn’t even hear the wildness on the beach. It was glorious. Peter chilled in his little beach tent for most of the day. By the end of the day it was full of sand from all the sandy bodies who wanted to squeeze in there to keep him company. He didn’t seem to mind. I love this little guy, but babies add a whole other dimension of stress to the beach. I thank my lucky stars he’s so mellow, I’d be a wreck if he weren't. Oh wait, I am kind of a wreck. The older kids were happy as little clams. Charlie is always so into the beach that he forgets to ask me for any food and then has a melt down as we pack up to go because he’s low on blood sugar. Need to remember to make him eat next year. The big kids did their fare share of yelling at the little ones for messing up sand creations. Poor little ones just trying to join in the fun. Someone threw sand in Emmeline’s face. She spent a lot of the day looking like this, it didn’t seem to bother her one bit. Here is our attempt at getting a picture of this wild bunch. Oh, I love these pictures. One day I’m going to be one of those old ladies on the beach (like the one behind Heidi in the picture below) with my book and chair and umbrella looking longingly at children like this, shaking my head as I tell the frazzled moms that they’ll miss it all one day, that it will all be over in a second.
Those older women always look so happy, enjoying the peaceful beauty of the beach. The three of us will be there one day, together, we’ve planned it. I’m sure there will be parts of our hearts that will ache to reach back in time and kiss those sandy little hands that are always sneaking into the chip bag. I’m sure we’ll long to snuggle their sunscreen lathered bodies and swish them about in the waves. But, I’m also pretty sure we’re going to fully enjoy picking the most beautiful spot on the beach (rather than the one closest to the stairs), eating beach food without that sandy crunch, watching the waves as we get lost in conversation, falling asleep with the sun on our faces and an open book on our chests and walking away from the sea with only our love of the ocean calling out protests.
I hope then, and now, I can have the wisdom to live presently. To soak in everything given to me by each moment in time. To not waste time wishing for something different.
We stopped for ice cream on the way back to the train, which, as you can imagine, was messy. We made it to the platform long before the train arrived so I taught the kids some pretty sweet dance moves and we had a little dance party with music ‘blaring’ from my iPhone while we waited. I had to think of something to get that bunch from making us all crazy.
On the train ride home a group of very scantily clad girls (in their late teens I’d guess) were stuck right by our crazy crowd. They didn’t move, the train must have been too full. Instead they sat seemingly totally absorbed in themselves, putting on make up, fixing their hair, talking about boys. They were clearly on their way to go clubbing (am I totally dating myself with that expression?). I’m not sure that any of them acknowledged that we were there, right next to them. But, I’m certain they noticed us (it would have been impossible not to). We were loud, the boys were (literally) bouncing off the walls, Jo’s tooth fell out and she was bleeding and excited, Peter cried until I nursed him right there in front of them, Emmeline had a few full out tantrums. I’m sure that, even with their eyelash extensions, those girls saw us out of the corner of their eyes. And, I’m pretty sure we were an answer to their parent’s prayers. Not one of those girls was gonna go out and get pregnant after witnessing our glowing endorsement for what motherhood brings with it.
But, one day (hopefully not for a while), those girls will be in the thick of motherhood. And then, when it’s their own adventure, they’ll feel the thrill of loving a little person so much that you see past all the wildness and chaos to the beauty of guarding and guiding a life. They’ll realize that somehow, as hard as it is, it fills you.
It fills you so much that when you’re old and finally alone and at peace on the beach all you want to do is go back.