Even (especially?) on vacation, life can seem frantic when you have small kids. The week before was a whirlwind of packing, getting the kitchen ready for major renovations, and saying goodbye to two schools' worth of friends. Vacation itself carries its own stresses, from living in close quarters to forgetting to pack essential items to having your carefully calibrated schedule thrown off. (Even if it is with beach fun and ice cream on the boardwalk; not that anyone was complaining.)
My friend once said on a playdate, when our four kids were racing around getting into all sorts of trouble, "these are the best days of our lives, aren't they?" I laughed because he was dripping with sarcasm, but I have since then taken the statement to heart. These are good times: we're young, our kids are at a fun age, and we are blessed with material wealth and physical health.
I often say that our kids will never be this age again, since they only age in one direction. And yet to make the most of each day, especially for a fretful, future-oriented person like me, is like grabbing sand. Still, I try.
I recall a moment one night at Ocean City last week. We were at the boardwalk after a long, luxurious day in the hot sun on the beach. Pizza and ice cream in stomachs, we headed for the rides, and Jada and Aaron eventually settled on the carousel and the airplanes. As I watched them spin around and around, I took a moment to soak it all in. It was like a scene from a movie: the noises muffled, the scene slowed, and I thought about my kids. I love them, I think they're beautiful, and it is a fun age to see them go through.
I got a little sad, thinking that some day, they won't be this age, where they can just enjoy the innocence of laughing at each other as they whirl around and around. I said a prayer that they would find someone who would love them and with whom they could have kids, so they could experience the sweet joy I was experiencing in watching my two have the time of their lives. That, too, made me a little sad, thinking that my relationship with them will change a little as they make room for someone with whom they will build a new life together. And yet that letting go also was cause for happiness, because it would mean my work was done and I could watch from a safe distance as they found a new kind of joy and happiness.
Soon enough, the movie scene ended: the sounds returned to normal, and everything snapped back to regular time. The kids got off the ride, looked around, and smiled big once their eyes locked with mine. Tomorrow will come, but that day I was able to catch a moment and hold it, even if for just a moment.