It was one of “those” weeks in the Crabb Shack. The kind of week where you start off Monday morning with every activity written neatly in color-coded pen in your planner…and by Friday the pages are covered in scribbles and wite-out and things left undone. All the “unexpecteds” hit like a ton of bricks and the exhaustion set in and by Friday afternoon I was completely spent. We were just wrapping up school when I looked at the four faces in the room with me and said half-heartedly, “I’ve had enough, guys. Daddy’s gone & it’s been a really long week…We can just make frozen pizzas & eat a late dinner tonight. What do you say clean up our books and go to the beach?”
Within 30 minutes, 4 out of the 5 of us had changed into swimsuits, gathered our towels and sand toys, and were loading up the van. I dropped off our oldest, Jimmy, at a field on the way to meet up with some friends for a pickup game of football. (Apparently when teenage boys have a choice between hanging out with their mom on the beach or playing football with friends, you may as well slap a giant “L” on the mom’s forehead every time. In these instances, a mom is supposed to smile, hand over the garage door opener as he jumps out of the moving vehicle, and pretend this doesn’t bother her one bit. I think this is L-A-M-E.) The other 3 kids and I arrived at the beach exactly one hour before sunset, so there was no time to waste.
In that one hour we splashed and swam in the ocean, played water-football-monkey-in-the-middle, built a sand fortress complete with a lagoon, transformed the girls into mermaids by fashioning a “tail” out of sand atop their buried legs, and made a rather large bucket of spaghetti and sand-meatballs.
As the sun dipped lower and lower onto the horizon, I walked back up toward our pile of towels and flip flops and sat down. I rifled through the beach bag to find my phone and I looked up and studied their faces. They were smiling and laughing and looking like there was nowhere else in the world they’d rather be. I snapped a few quick pictures of them and of the gorgeous sunset then I sat down in the warm sand.
Just then, it occurred to me that I had spent the entire week as a giant ball of stress just “wishing away” all the inconveniences that forced me to rearrange my schedule. Ironically, those were the same exact things that had led us to that beach that evening to relax. Without all that hectic and crazy, we might be parked on the couch in front of a movie, eating pizza, & barely speaking. But there we were: laughing, playing, and making memories because of the very things I had spent days stressing over.
Sometimes I get so caught up in the meal plans, the lesson plans, and the schedule that I forget why those things actually exist. In my efforts to uncomplicate our family life, I had actually over-complicated it. But that evening it seemed as clear as the water we were splashing in: I had remembered to feed us meals and knowledge, but I had forgotten to feed our souls. I hadn’t taken the time to stuff them full of laughter and memories that they could tuck away and keep with them for a lifetime. And maybe when they’re teenagers playing football with their friends, they’ll miss hanging out at the beach with their mom just a little bit…