(they just have too much energy to be cooped up inside all day), I braved the beach on 3 separate occasions with all 3 kids.
Once I did it the first time, I realized that it was much easier than I had thought it would be. The sun is what scares me the most with a tiny infant who can't wear sunscreen and has such sensitive skin. But I was able to time it correctly during the daytime visits so that Greystoke slept most of the time under the shade of his carseat, and only came out to nurse under a cover, and it was actually a pure hour of relaxation.
The older boys entertained themselves...I could see their energy being released while my body relaxed, and it was absolutely perfect.
As I sat there watching the way the sun kissed and the wind blew red sandy curls, I thought about how everyone always says that before you die your life flashes before your eyes.
And it occurred to me that most of those flashes that go by for me on that day are going to be set at the beach.
Boogie boarding in the sunshine with my twin sister as a child. Having mud fights at dusk with my older sister. Laying in the sand with a seventeen magazine as an awkward teenager. The way the perfume scented pages mixed with the salt air into a smell I can still remember like it was yesterday.
Throwing our "hopes and dreams" into the ocean, tucked into a glass bottle on new year's eve with my closest friends.
Mixed up late teens and early 20s. Melting my confusion into the chaos of the waves and finding home during a time when otherwise I felt so lost. Racing home from work for a lunch time surf session.
Night time prayer walks with one of my best friends.
Falling in love over hurricane swells.
Dancing together at our wedding reception.
Putting each of our babies' feet in the sand for the first time.
Countless early morning, midday, evening, and night time visits to the beach as a family. Watching lifeguard training. Cheering on JT at competition.
One of my favorite things about the beach is how it is always changing. Every time you go there is a new dynamic to it, a conduit for all things creative. There is water...and sometimes it is quiet, sometimes it is wild. Sometimes the waves are big and clean, and sometimes they are small and choppy.Sometimes they break right on shore, and other times they are gentle on your feet.
There are rocks to jump off of, and sand cliffs to scale, and you can never be sure what you will get on any given day.
Change is one of the most beautiful things in life, despite how we often resist it.
So many more memories are still yet to be made in the life of my family. I have no idea what they will be, but I know, always, there will be the backdrop of the sand and sea.
Last night I made an evening visit to the beach with the kids since JT had a competition meeting at our house. It was cool and beautiful and I didn't have to fear the sun. And since evening is Greystoke's most alert time, he got to really see the beach for the first time. I watched his grey eyes looking out over the ocean, and wondered what he could see.
Not far. Baby vision is limited to about 20 inches in front of their faces, which is no coincidence. That is the exact distance to Mommy's face when she is feeding him. And at this age, most things are overwhelming to a baby. But Mommy's face isn't too much. It's just what he needs.
I thought about how so often we long to see further than we can, but how God lets us see just enough. There are beautiful things in the future. And there are some things in the future for Greystoke that would be too heart-breaking for me to see now. Not now, when he still has sweet and sour milk breath, and feet so soft from never touching the ground.
A chapter of our lives is slowly closing, as our last baby rapidly changes before our eyes. But mostly I feel like a new chapter is beginning.
There is more pleasure in the infancy of the 3rd child, and less pressure. Each day passes and he sits a little straighter, and his neck gets a little stronger, and his eyes focus a little better, and I soak it in because I'm good at that. Because I've never really been in danger of being a workaholic, because what I really am, in my heart, is a dreamer and a writer, and someone who sees things.
But I don't feel that same pressure that I felt, holding Aquaman's tiny hand in mine. Everyone told me, soak it in, this is the best time of your life. But now I know that it's not.
Every day is the best time of your life. Every stage is the most amazing one. Watching your kid go off to school by himself and become his own person is as beautiful and different as the first time you catch sight of him in the hospital.
There are as many amazing and painful moments in the future as their have been in the past.
And that's the incredible part.
Today is the first day of summer break, and marks one month until I return to work from maternity leave. My paychecks have stopped, and we're officially starting the slow dig into savings.
But I don't feel afraid today. Every time I go to the beach, inevitably, someone stops to smile at my 3 boys and tell me that I "have my hands full", and I guess my hands are full. But mostly, they're open. It's my heart that is truly full.
God has given me just enough vision for today. I can see 20 inches in front of my face....to His face. The rest may be overwhelming, but His face isn't. It's all that I need to see. It's enough.