A few minutes ago, I admitted to the Facebook world that today marked my first or second trip to the beach in this year. We live in south Florida, and only about thirty minutes from many wonderful beaches. Oddly enough, I went today with just my daughter–how often does that happen? My son was about two hours north, spending a few days with his grandparents, before school starts next week.
Part of me feels badly about not taking advantage of our location more. Having grown up in New England, “beach” has a different connotation down here. The water is warm. The sand is soft and white. The water is an enchanting greenish blue. We can visit the beach almost year-round. A sunset, or sunrise, takes on a new sense of awe when viewed from the sand and across the water. Our kids love playing in the sand and water. There are millions of shells to discover and examine. We know what beaches to go to in order to avoid huge crowds. What’s not to love?
This is where the other, more practical and controlling part of me comes in. What’s not to love? Packing, for one. With just my daughter and me, there was a large tote with towels and beach blanket, a medium tote with sunscreen and a change of clothes and my wallet and my phone and my keys and a lunch tote and some other snacks, a plastic bag with sand toys, and a folding chair with straps on my back. At one point, my little girl asked me to carry her, too, but when her leg got wedged in between my back and the chair, she decided she could walk. I don’t want to gripe, and we didn’t have to walk far from the car to our spot on the sand, I just want to paint the whole picture of why this might not happen terribly often. There’s the sand to consider. Inevitably, if there is a toddler, there will be sand-covered hands, and the toddler’s entire face will then get coated with sand. (Insert frantic cries of “wipe my eyes!!!” here.) Then, if you happen to have a thumb-sucking toddler, well…crunchy thumb if you don’t catch her in time to clean it off. I anticipated the issue of sand, but I didn’t foresee the problem with seaweed. I don’t really care for it snaking around my legs in the shallow water, but I know what it is and can ignore it or peel it off. At one point, my little one asked, “Mommy, will it bite me?” After that thought, even though I reassured her many times, she would not go to or from the water on her feet. “Carry me!” And then there’s the weather. In our neck of the woods, it can be pouring down rain in one part of town and perfectly sunny in another. Some very menacing clouds almost scared us home earlier than we’d planned, but a quick check with the weather radar suggested we could stick around safely.
What I truly loved about going to the beach today: the friends who we went with and my daughter’s joy in being there. Spending time with fun people made every grain of sand, every moment of hoisting my little one over seaweed, every new freckle well worth it. Go again? Sure, why not, but maybe I’ll wait to have my son or my husband (or both) so I don’t have to look so much like a tropical pack mule.