Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Mixed Reflections from a Mama at the Beach

Funny how getting away changes one’s perspective, whether it’s a family reunion or visit, a mission trip, a true vacation alone or with one’s spouse or immediate family, or simple day trip away.  Not to demean “Staycations” – sometimes those are wonderful, especially when the budget demands it. For me, the key to a modified outlook is getting away of my house, detached from daily reminders of responsibilities, projects and other unfinished business. Wresting control from the temptation to do, do, do is usually accomplished not (sadly) from personal discipline in my space, but removing myself from it.

Nothing like a beach trip to do that. The hustle-bustle of urban/suburban life where we city folk live is an illusion of control, one we work hard to nurture. Technology, plastic money, and instant everything has provided us with that ability to enable that fantasy. We can tap into world news, converse with friends, purchase items, manage investments, monitor accounts, and a myriad of other tasks all from our little smart phones. And that’s just the technology. We can also build a house complete with full landscape including trees in a matter of weeks and tear another one down a house in one hour.  Yet the crashing waves of an ocean, as my brother insightfully noted, looks the same now as it did 5,000 years ago. Ain’t nothin’ we can do to move the ocean. It’s easy to absorb either the party atmosphere or the relaxation aspects of the beach culture, but either way each is a big change from daily life at home. For us moms of younger kids, life at a beach house isn’t always a total vacation as meals still need to be made, dishes washed, general clean-up, parenting. It’s always on the radar.

As I sat at the kitchen table making a shopping list for meals looking up to see the view of the sea through the glass doors on this lovely beachfront property, I fantasized about a vacation away in which I could actually lie on the sofa and read for three hours – or just daydream -- and not be on the clock.

One of the greatest joys is seeing the cousins connect on different levels. One cousin teaching another a new game, then the favor is returned with teaching a different game. New jokes and humorous narratives created to be laughed at for years to come. Memories built and shared that helps weave the tapestry of our heritage and communal lives. Wish we lived closer.

As the week came to a close, Matthew returned home a day early to prepare for a mission trip with our church to Honduras. His first time out of the country. To go to a remote village – I f you could even call it a village; it’s basically a bunch of houses on a hill – and connect with the people. This mission team has gone each year since Hurricane Mitch’s devastation in 1998, built substantial housing, installed a system of clean water, and provided some spiritual direction especially for the kids with Vacation Bible School. This is a place where the kids don’t have $150 sneakers and the latest iPhones.

But back to my baby far away. As he prepared to leave the beach, excited about his impending adventure, I found I couldn’t conjure up the same excitement – and I’m a big fan of international travel. Despite my oldest boy being a reasonably responsible 15-year old who was surely ready to handle such a trip, all I could feel was the heartrending emotion of having one’s child plucked from her arms. So many things I’d not said or done, too many criticisms and not enough affirmations. Would this be the year of the tragic plane crash that would make the papers? Could he contract some horrible illness and go down before they could medevac him home? Oh the insane places my brain can go.

As I hugged him goodbye, feebly telling him to take good care of himself, restraining myself from clinging to him, he flashed his big smile at me that said “Love ya Mom, I’m good,” and shut the car door. After they drove off, I couldn’t keep the tears from falling and proceeded to sob in my room for 30 minutes. As I’m not much of a crier, I felt washed out the rest of the day. Whether it was primal Mother Bear instincts or my anxiety, tendency-to-catastrophize brain hardwiring or a goulash of premenstrual hormones, I was just a mess that day.

However, thankfully my trip home with one of my other sons was restful and positive as he is such a joy to be with. And the blog entries from the mission trip displayed wonderful photos and narrative about the week’s activities which helped me feel encouraged and free from most anxiety. Matthew looked happy and engaged in the pictures. And not only did he come home safely, he enjoyed it so much he didn't want to come back!

Matthew, Yosimar, Emma, Anna, and Cecelia


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