I used to be a rather spontaneous person, but in recent years I have become a boring, plan-months-in-advance kind of girl. I think part of it is being a Mom. I can’t just throw a duffel bag in the car and call it a day. There are routines and schedules to consider, pack-and-plays and 126 diapers to find room for in the car.
But then last week after joking over and over again with my mother-in-law about just throwing everything in the car and going to Scott’s uncle’s vacant beach house for a few days, I decided to just do something at the last minute that wasn’t written on the calendar this time last year.
So it started with a Facebook message.
“Anyone kind of, sort of free Tuesday through Thursday?”
Within five minutes, a “ding!” on my computer.
My friend Nicole responds with a “yes” in all caps.
And aside from the butterflies in my stomach, a huge smile grew in that moment, too. I smirked to myself and soon heard from my local friend Krystal and then my Philly-area friend Kacey.
Within 24 hours, the joke turned into a scheming plan. The stars aligned, Uncle Joseph and Aunt Mary graciously offered their available beach house, my mother-in-law volunteered for pacifier and snack duty on the five-hour trip each way.
I had to do an emergency trip to the store because I didn’t even have a swimsuit for myself. Or beach toys for Zack. Or unscratched sunglasses. Or a beach towel.
Soon, I found myself packing up every last square inch of the car whole stopping every few minutes to ask Scott just how crazy I was.
He insisted I wasn’t too crazy. And basically pushed me out the door. (Not sure whose sanity we saved more this past week — his or mine!)
And then we were off.
Aside from a two-month-old girl who insisted on making her presence known each night between 3 and 5 a.m., a horrific traffic-and-Camden-filled ride home yesterday and a bit of sunburn for me to remember the beach by, it was an amazing trip.
Spontaneity suits me, I think.
There were a few quiet moments reading and mingling at the house, watching the kids play together. But there were many more louder moments — the kind filled with crashing ocean waves, chats in the sand, giggles between friends, gasps at sunsets. And the quiet-but-feels-loud moments where my thoughts overtook the shore breeze and screeching seagulls. Where peace came over my body. Calmness, strength and determination.
Some of my happiest moments, perhaps in my entire life so far (definitely Top Ten) came on this spontaneous trip to the Jersey Shore.
Sitting on the beach just at the water’s edge with my son. He stands up, walks confidently over to me and plops down in between my legs. We put our fingertips in the sand, his short, stubby fingers over mine. We pointed at and laughed at the waves that came to us. And every now and then, he would just turn his head around and smile at me. He was such a little beach bum. I think sometimes as a mother our emotions are so closely intertwined with those of our children. Zack’s enjoyment on that beach brought me heart-bursting joy.
My friends walked with, picked up, fed, played with and talked to my children as if they were their own. They helped me when I felt overwhelmed and made me laugh until it hurt.
There was a chat on a darkened porch, wine glasses in our hands, ocean waves on one side of us, a bay on the other, secrets shared, laughter and leg-slapping as we felt like college kids again, at least for a few moments.
Ice cream as a group, with melted colors on little girl lips and little boy forehead (yes, I said forehead). Good to the last drop!
A lighthouse and walk along the water, white-capped waves crashing against large dark boulders. And my “gemela” risking her life, and possibly jailtime, to save Addie’s windswept bonnet.
And my Addie. I held her close to me in our baby backpack for most of our trips. whether walking, arms full and heavy, to the beach, strolling down a retro street or digging my toes into the sand, she lay cuddled up on my chest. What I thought at first would be a nuisance turned into a whole other realm of bonding. Her crazy dark, soft hair turning even crazier on a windy day, her arms clutching my shirt, her smooth, even breathing.
Those are the moments. The special moments you can’t plan.
The click of my camera in competition only with my talented friends’ photography (special thanks to them for some of these photos).
I wouldn’t have changed a thing and in the end, I’m so very, very happy I decided to just say to Hell with it all and gave something crazy a whirl again. Life is too short not to live on the edge every now and then, not to test yourself and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Life is too short not to live a little spontaneously every now and then.
I’m ready for my next bout of spontaneity, whenever it comes knocking at my heart again.