Who doesn’t love the beach? Anyone? Anyone?
Oh, that would be me. I don’t love the beach.
Although, I have many happy memories tip-toeing through tide pools and wriggling my feet in the frothy sighs of the ocean with my grandma (who has lived near the beach my entire life), I do not enjoy beach trips. I’m much more of a mountainy, hiking trail kind of gal. I never have the urge to pack a magazine and a towel and just hang out at the beach. That is, until now.
Something about having a baby makes me long to traipse through the waves in a big floppy hat, holding baby’s hand as he squeals in delight. What fun! Tiny toes touching the water, the sea breeze blowing through baby curls, and lots and lots of smiles. In my beach dream, we would play in the sand, but the sand would surely stay in its place, and absolutely not creep into every aspect of the day. The beach is the perfect sunny, summer outing! And sand is just lovely!
No. No, it’s not.
So, what do you do when your perfect family outing turns out to be a coated in sand? Well, I’ll tell you. You breathe. And then you remind yourself of two important life lessons I learned that day.
Fun is a Dirty Business
When I suggested we take Judah to the beach I envisioned everything in still frames. In my mind the whole day would happen in black in white—like the kind of photographs that people hang in their airy, Pinterest-worthy homes. After such an afternoon, our lives might morph into the perfect Pinterest-worthy lives we secretly aspire to have. (Okay, let’s be honest, this is my dream alone. Jeremy has no such aspirations. And you probably don’t either.)
But all those Pinterest-worthy beach photographs? Someone is posing for them. Posing. Someone in a gauzy, white dress is pretending that the baby she is holding is not dropping fists full of sand down her top. And what you don’t see when you look at the sweet little cherub digging a hole, is all the SAND creeping into his diaper.
For reals, sand is such a bummer. It sticks to everything. It gets in your food, in all your stuff, and in all your most intimate body places and then HANGS OUT THERE ALL DAY!
But what we have to remember is that the best fun ever is dirty fun. (I mean this literally, of course.) Jumping in puddles, making mud pies, camping, playing soccer, climbing trees – these are all things that require you to put your princess shoes aside and get dirty. Dirty fun is what happens when you let yourself be free and uninhibited. Dirty fun is what happens when you let yourself embrace life.
Opportunities to have real fun, dirty fun find don’t pop up everyday. Um, unless you go to the beach everyday. But when they do, our lives are made better, our relationships made stronger, and our memories made fonder when we let ourselves get dirty.
It’s Not a Disaster if You’re Surrounded by People You Love
Everyone knows you must dip children in sunblock before going to the beach. But it had been a long drive and when we arrived I could feel Judah’s need to be freed from the carseat and out in the open air. So, I smeared a bit of sun block on his face and gathered up our stuff, anxious to get settled on our blanket.
I’ll just apply the sun block while he plays, I thought. (Mothers everywhere guffaw.)
Once on the blanket, I could give him a diaper change, put on his cute diaper cover, coat him in a nice, even layer of sun block, and then let him have at it.
Ha, said the sand.
As I started rubbing, the sun block joined with the sand creating a nice exfoliating paste. When I finally felt okay with the layer of sand-paste that coated Judah, I threw on his hat and crossed my fingers, hoping it would make up for the spotty application.
I huffed and puffed and complained the whole time, while my husband and grandmother looked on. I think I actually said, “This was not supposed to happen. This is horrible. What a disaster.”
That was when I had to stop and change my attitude. Unless it’s a natural disaster, nuclear war, or you pooped your pants, it’s not that horrible. And it’s not a disaster if you are surrounded by people you love. Even when you’re learning big, life lessons.
We’re not headed back to the beach anytime soon. But we still had fun. That is, once I let myself relax and enjoy a dirty, rather sandy, day at the beach surrounded by people I love tons and tons.
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