I have always loved to swim. Every since I was a little kid I just wanted to swim. At five years old, my heaven on Earth was a body of water. Whether a lake, a pond, a pool, the ocean, or an extra feeding trough for cows, if there was water and I was in it, I was happy. I looked for every opportunity to swim. I carried my little bikini with me in my jean purse so that I was always prepared if I was presented with the opportunity to swim. I asked my mom, regularly, to buy us a pool and I dragged her to our neighborhood pond every day in the summer. I took swimming and diving as gym classes in college. I love to aqua jog at our gym pool. I still feel a sense of deep calm when I walk into the pool area there and also when I crest a hill on a country road and see our town's beautiful lake glimmering in the sunlight.
To me, it's just not a worthwhile summer day if we aren't swimming. Over the last six years I have figured out where all of the local beaches are at our lake, the lakes in a 25 mile vicinity, as well as the location of the public pools. I probably know where most of the private pools are, too, and I'm waiting for an invite to them. The girls and I are regulars at many of the local swimming sites, our house filled each evening with sand, beach towels, wet suits, coolers, beach chairs, and more sand. Today was nearly the perfect summer day. We arrived at the beach around 10:45 and stayed until 3:15. (Total perfection would have been arrival at 10am and departure around 7pm- that afternoon sun is so lovely.) We ate, we swam. We ate more. We swam more. The girls snoozed on the way home. After dinner we showered off the dirt, only leaving that sun kissed feeling on our skin.
It is on days like today that I feel so spoiled to spend two months with the girls. I'm watching them grow by the minute and I am taking part in their day from the time they wake up until the they crash in their beds each evening. On days like today, you may agree with Andy, that I am having my bon bon summer. I'm doing one of the things I love most with the two people I love most. He must be right.
Hold up. This isn't a Norman Rockwell postcard. This is not a Hallmark moment. This is me- Mommy Martyr. Your UpState cynic. I recall writing a post about how a vacation with children is not a vacation in the traditional sense. Same goes for a day at the beach. As I looked out at the majestic water today, felt that gorgeous hot sun on my back and the cold splash of water in my face, I thought to myself: there are no bon bons for moi at this beach.
Since we are frequent beach and pool goers, I've started to notice a predictable pattern. I know this much to be true of a day at the beach:
It will take me at least an hour to pack all of our gear, if not longer.
I will forget something. I'll hope it's not one of our swimsuits. (Although Char wouldn't care...foreshadowing warning.)
I'll wish I had a third arm as I attempt to drag all of the gear from the parking lot to the beach.
As soon as we get to the beach the kids will want to eat before I can even put the cooler down.
I will forget to put sunblock somewhere on someone. I'll feel bad about it when I'm looking at her red and white raccoon face at dinner.
I will ask not to be splashed in the face. I will ask repeatedly. I will get splashed, repeatedly, in the face.
Caroline will ask me 200 times to go in the water.
Charlotte will ask me 200 times to stay out of the water and feed her.
Someone will have to poop. If it is a good day, we'll make it to the bathroom. Let's just say some days are better than others.
We'll spend more time in the bathroom than in the water.
Charlotte will be loud all of the time. She'll yell in the bathroom. She'll yell on the beach. She'll yell in the water.
Charlotte will yell inappropriate things in the water like, "Snake!" or "Help me! Help me!!"
I will bring a book. I will read the same line over and over again.
Food will fall in the sand. Some of it may be eaten anyway.
I will hide my lunch. It will be found. It will either be eaten or dropped in the sand.
While watching my kids pretend to be dolphin/mermaid/princess hybrids I will also be witness to a couple in the water. The guy will either be right up behind the woman or the woman will be facing the guy with her legs wrapped around his waist. They'll stay like that for a long time. During that time, I'll be reminded to encourage my kids NOT to drink the water. You just don't know what bodily fluids are floating around.
I'll see a lot of skin. More than I want to see. Caroline will too, and she'll do her share of shouting things like, "Mommy! Look at those sexy ladies!"
Char will get naked. She'll roll in the sand and then prance across the beach, her sandy bum entertaining the crowd. She'll dress and undress several times.
Someone will be pissed that we are leaving, even though we have been there 10 hours and are coming back tomorrow. Someone will stomp her feet and tell me I'm the worst-mom-ever..
The beach bag will feel so much heavier than when we arrived. It'll be because we have acquired 10 pounds of sand.
The girls will fall asleep on the way home. I'll smile as they snooze. Oddly, I'll feel both exhausted and relaxed at the same time.
I will spend an hour doing laundry, cleaning the sandy cooler, and sweeping up all the sand we tracked in the house upon our return.
I'll sleep really well.
We'll do it all over again tomorrow, if we are lucky.