In my early twenties I was famous for throwing a towel in the backseat of my Honda Accord and hitting the beach any chance I got. My favorite destination was Narragansett Town Beach in R.I. because a two-hour ride was totally worth it with good music, friends, and the sunroof open. Besides, the surfer boys in R.I. knew just how much lemon juice to use for the perfect blonde highlight. Getting away to the ocean was always my reset button. Sunglasses, sand between my toes, and that salty wavy hair always made for a good day.
My early thirties brought a different kind of beach scene. Any moms and dads out there know that going to the beach with kids is a TOTALLY different ball game. The required gear that you have to schlep across the sand in a wagon or stroller, the sunblock application and re-application after the kids have just rolled in sand, the 27 snacks, the tent assembly, the arm floaties, and is it just me or has sand castle building become next level lately? I mean it could take up to 3 hours to make a sand castle city complete with a moat, tide wall, and free wi-fi nowadays! There is no tanning, reading or chillaxin’ going on!
But something kind of magical happened this week. I went on a last minute girls’ adventure with my daughter Kylie and we crossed the threshold. We literally threw together some bags into the back seat of my now more family friendly Honda Pilot, dropped her little brother off for “Camp Grandma’s House” and we hit the road. It was going to be a 3 hour drive, a 45 minute ferry and 55 minutes of island traffic but we were determined to catch the sunset over the water that night on Martha’s Vineyard. For a moment, with the sunroof open, the music on, and the open road it didn’t feel that different from my twenties. Only now my daughter would be the one crushing on the cute blonde boys. It was a much needed reprieve to be able to enjoy some ocean time with my little sidekick. As a bonus, she even reminded me of a few things:
- Go with the flow. We didn’t have a plan for our trip other than to see family and catch sunsets. It was so nice to see where every day brought us instead of having an itinerary. I hadn’t realized how much of a routine I was on until I wasn’t. Kylie’s favorites: Building a tidal pool on the beach together, roasting marshmallows at a bonfire with her cousins, and staying up late. My favorites: Watching Kylie look for the perfect find at the local bookstore, solo runs around different parts of the island, sunset on the beach, and the unlimited Nutella my sister keeps in stock.
- Sand castles teach you a lot about life. My teenage nephews were totally troopers about helping Kylie build her sand castle city. They spent a good hour and a half perfecting the gated entry, the winding moat, and four dream villas for sand crabs of the east coast and with one large high tide wave all their work was lost. Ahhh….enter the life metaphor. Sometimes no matter how hard we work on something, it can still be gone in an instant. Cursing the ocean for hours won’t really help. We could wipe our tears and pick up our shovel and start building again. This also was a turning point for my little girl, who would have probably sobbed for hours about this last summer. Instead, she simply kept on truckin’ and the next day, beach production resumed on a new sand condo complex by the sea. She is growing up and her resilience inspires me.
- Get lost in your own world. There was a good hour after the sun set at Lambert’s Cove where Kylie just stayed by the water line. I went back to hang on a blanket with my cousins and my sister while Kylie stayed down the beach throwing rocks in the water, dancing with the waves, doing spontaneous cartwheels, and not really paying any attention to anyone or anything else. She was in her own little world and it was so beautiful to watch. She found her reset button, and I hope she always comes to the ocean to find her sparkle again when life dulls it.
- Be a woman of your word. I had entertained jumping off the Jaws Bridge on one of my previous trips to MV. It’s something I should have done when I was twenty! I made the mistake of saying it out loud this trip in front of Kylie. As we pulled up and I saw 16 year olds in tiny bikinis balance on the thin railing and do back flips off of it…I was like, “I’m good, let’s go get ice cream.” And then Kylie used my own words against me, “Be brave, Mama! Remember you said that being brave is being afraid but doing something anyways, and you might find out that it’s not that scary after all.” Dammit…my 7 year old just called me out! That’s practically like a triple dog dare!! It was not the most graceful dive into the Atlantic but I ended up jumping and keeping my promise. I then jumped three more times after that because it did turn out to be a lot of fun! Point taken…little lady!
- Listen to the whispers in your heart. We wished on everything we could think of this trip – a sky full of stars, rocks we threw in the ocean, ladybugs, the clock turning 11:11, eyelashes, etc. Wishes remind us of what our hearts truly hope for so you have to take a moment, close your eyes and listen first. I know Kylie no doubt wishes for Grace’s café set from American Girl Doll (which I promise you is never going to happen, kid, so you can keep using the cardboard box version that we made at home), but for me it was an opportunity to wish for…well now, we all know you can’t say your wishes out loud!!
With only one month of summer lovin’ left before school and cold weather return, I hope you go out and find your reset button. Maybe get a chance to take a mini adventure with whoever your sidekick may be. Get a little lost, make some wishes, and play in the sand any chance you get…