This week my daughter's school has been on Fall Break and has challenged me to a full week, that's seven days straight, with all three of my children home requiring at a minimum three meals a day, clean clothes to wear, and entertainment around the clock. Since Ava started kindergarten I've become accustomed to a "calmer" Monday-Friday with the majority of my day responsible for just two little ones (which believe me is challenging enough). Needless to say, I knew this Fall Break would require all my strength and a small trick up my sleeve, like a mini beach getaway! I knew the kids would love a little road trip, a night away, and of course seeing the ocean - but this trip was just as much for them as it was for ME. My ocean craving finally got the best of me and I was longing to hear the waves, feel ocean waters engulf my toes, and look out into the vast open sea for some humbling and peaceful moments of reflection. So on a Wednesday morning our trip began...
With Grandpa as our gracious beach benefactor and fun travel companion, we packed up Vanny (aka our minivan) and headed to the shores of Ocean City, Maryland for a sweet salty getaway for 24 hours.
After about an hour of "Are we there yet?" interspersed while watching a movie all three kids finally fell asleep, so my dad and I got some quality time to just chat on the open road. We talked family, we talked politics, we talked football - it was nice. We almost made it the whole way without incident, but true to form, 45 minutes from our destination cries of hunger, dirty diapers, and boredom rang loud. After two pit stops we were back at it and I could feel the ocean air getting closer!
Arrival! A bit of a ghost town in late October, but still some beach goers around and some local shops and restaurants open. However none of that mattered to me, I only had one thought on my mind ---> toes in the sand, breeze on my face, and views of the ocean, ALL so very close now.
We unpack and change out of pjs, check out our room view & then head to the beach! It's chilly & I immediately regret not packing more warm clothes, but on a wing and a prayer we land our feet in the sand and head towards the water. The kids so far are happy and seem content with their clothing, no complaints of being cold or uncomfortable, so I'm feeling pretty good. The ocean view is providing me the immediate stress relief I've been wanting, and I just feel happy. Vincent is clinging to Grandpa a little fearful of the sand and waves at first, but that quickly fades and the kids are in full kid mode running and playing in the sand. Ava even dipped her toes in the water with me for a bit! I confined the baby to the stroller for most of the time & you'll see why shortly - he protested a bit, but luckily the waves seemed to have a calming effect on him as well providing enough time for me to get my fix! It was so lovely and joyful...and then as I turned Baby D loose with his big sibs a fistful of sand became a snack...and back to the stroller he went!
So remember earlier when I said I wanted to look out into the vast open sea for some humbling peaceful moments of reflection...well that sort of happened. Note to self - bringing three kids to the beach doesn't lend itself very well for peaceful reflection. It happened, for a moment, and then I was very much humbled as I found my sweet Vincent, my little mischief maker, taking off towards the boardwalk & main road with not me or Grandpa quick enough to catch up!! Did I mention I have won award for Mother of the Year many times?...Grandpa ran, mind you in the sand, as fast as he could, while I, holding Decklan yelled in my super scary Mommy voice STOP!!! Luckily my calls reached the attention of some wonderful bystanders on the boardwalk who became my defensive blockers and put Vincent's run off to an end. So, my time for humble and peaceful reflection ended there. I continued some personal reflection with a cocktail on the enclosed porch overlooking a beautiful sunset. We survived dinner & anyone with young children knows this is the only way to describe a successful dinner when taking kids out to a real restaurant; I'm not talking Silver Diner here (which we happen to love). After dinner we snuggled up in pjs in comfy hotel beds, played musical beds throughout the night, and woke before the early morning sun.
Our time at the beach was quickly coming to an end. I knew our trip was going to be short when we planned it, but I knew none of us were ready to leave when the time came.
We delayed as long as we possibly could and even battled a windy morning to have donuts on the boardwalk for more views of the ocean. A quick dip in the hotel pool, with the main goal of getting the kids so tired they would sleep the whole ride home, proved equally fun and challenging. Grandpa got his workout while endlessly catching Vincent jumping off the side of the pool. Ava played in the water where she could stand and practice holding her breath underwater. I was in charge of Baby D who was only interested in trying to drink the pool water...so that was fun. We made it an entire hour.
Now it was really time to say goodbye...and that we did.
For me, this trip was refreshing and oh so needed! While it still had some challenges, as life always does, seeing the joy on my children's faces & spending quality time with my dad were priceless.
I used this trip as an opportunity to unplug from technology (minus capturing our memories in photos) and took a break from social media, email, news updates, articles, etc. etc. As much as I love these outlets in my life they can become overpowering at times & taking a rest from these things did wonders for my soul, as cheesy as it sounds.
I let the beautiful simplicity of the ocean literally wash away my worries, my troubles, my fears, and my failures AND it was just amazing. I left reinvigorated and with a thankfulness for what matters most in my life, those that I love dearly - especially my children who I am charged with raising and loving as much as humanly possible so they in turn grow into loving, kind, gentle people. So until we meet again OC...thank you for it all.