I woke up today determined to do something fun with the kids. I’ve been mopey, sulking, and downright blue for long enough, and according to the weather, it was going to be nice on the North Shore. I made pancakes for breakfast and loaded up 3 out of 4 to spend a few hours on the beach (Anya was still feeling sick, so I let her stay home). I was optimistic and excited to take the kids to the gelato cafe I found, too. Gelato for lunch! A tradition from our Italy days. The sun was shining, the kids were singing in the car, there was no traffic – all seemed to be going swimmingly (see what I did there?).
But then Leo refused to put on sunscreen. Then all the kids wanted to be in 3 different spots at the same time. Leo covered the grapes, meant to be shared by all, with sand. Lorelei and Addie bickered about everything. Leo stopped swimming and became the unofficial beach cleanup crew, touching all garbage he could find and wandering off. The sun was hit or miss, the water was cold, we couldn’t find any turtles, Lorelei was afraid of the teeny, tiny fish…and to be honest, I had not had enough coffee to combat all of this.
There is always a point where even the most patient of parents has to quit, and I gave up. We made it a couple hours, but I was calling this an off-day for the kids and shuffling/dragging 3 sandy children back to the car. I felt irritated and discouraged. Why couldn’t they just behave and appreciate the opportunity to live here? Why do they always fight? I just wanted to hang out by the water and enjoy the day with my kids. What is wrong with them?
I started driving home and came to the same realization that I usually arrive at – there is nothing wrong with my kids. Sisters fight, toddlers are easily distracted and messy, they all have different likes and dislikes, and despite what I want, life does not have to cooperate. I can post all the gorgeous beach pictures or funny anecdotes I want, but our life is not always beautiful, serene, or perfect. It’s actually pretty loud, complicated, and inconsistent. In a world where we all only post or share the best parts of our lives, it takes a minute to remember that these are only the best moments. Where was my phone when Leo smeared his poo all over the bathtub and I’m the only adult here to clean it up? Why didn’t I post about the conversation I had with Anya about the challenges of middle school, realizing that there was nothing I could do to emotionally help her adjust as she matures? Why didn’t I record the FaceTime with my husband where I cried yet again because I hate going to bed alone, even if I am used to it? Life is not your Facebook page, your Twitter feed, your Instagram album, or your Snapchat history. It is the every day challenges and triumphs, and I find it important to remember this during the frustrating days.
I’m happy to report that we did manage to salvage the afternoon – we still stopped for gelato, I caffeinated with my very first bullet coffee (not my favorite, but it’s still coffee), and I was finally able to stop at the locally owned farm stand that I always pass when it is closed. The kids were sticky from gelato. I went home with some awesome tzatziki and locally grown produce. I tried to run with Leo and ended up turning around in a surprising downpour (freakish tropical weather), but he thought it was hilarious. Addie refused to eat her dinner, as usual. Emma tried to get into the garbage, as usual. All these snippets of a day, good or bad, are a life – and I love ours. Even if I am the pale lady dragging a crying toddler back to the car while the old Hawaiians tell him not to fight it, just take a nap. 🙂