It Takes a Village

My hubs left last night, but our beach house was still full as my parents, sister, brother-in-law and aunt all stayed overnight.  That meant that I had to share a bed with a smelly four year old that had pooped in his pull-ups and a one year old who, now that we are on vacation, wakes at the crack of dawn. So, while the rest of the family enjoyed sleeping in, I did the following: yelled at my 4-year-old for pooping in his pull-up…again, cleaned my four-year-old’s poo, chased my one-year-old around after he broke into my make-up bag and ran off with my bronzer, cleaned bronzer off a baby’s face, attempted to clean bronzer out of the rental property’s carpet, and shushed shushed shushed and shushed both kids in a vain attempt to not wake up the rest of the family through all of this madness.

By 9:30 when everyone else was getting up, I was ready for a nap.

Soon, everyone was “packing” for the beach. For them, this consisted of slinging chairs over their shoulders, throwing a towel, bottled water and sunscreen in a bag and walking five minutes to the beach. For me, it meant dragging 2 boogie boards, a giant toy-filled beach basket, a bag of towels, sunscreen, swim diapers, juice boxes and waters and 3 beach chairs to the car, strapping in myself and 2 wiggly kids and driving 2 minutes to the beach. And then unloading all of the above to drag it all along the sand.

Once on the sand, the rest of the family who had no small children sat leisurely in their beach chairs talking, laughing, dozing and tanning while I ran in and out of the water, trying to lifeguard one child and simply keep track of the other who was spending most of his time trying to join a father-son paddleball game by making off with the paddleball. In between, I tried desperately to get in touch with my cousin who I knew was at the beach. And who also has children.

So while the childless walked to the other end of the beach to a local seafood restaurant that I knew my children (or at least toddler) would probably tear apart (our days of pleasurable restauranting are temporarily over), I joined my cousin and her Friends With Kids.

Suddenly my world came back into balance. Conversations were interrupted by a child toppling over in a beach chair and children who renamed themselves “Mud Monsters” as they shook mud all over all of us. But, for the first time all day, I was in good company. I was with a group of people who had left their homes with baskets full of sandy toys, a pack of overpriced juice boxes and 3 different types of sunscreen. Never would they imagine walking down the beach to a restaurant to leisurely eat clamcakes and chowder over a couple of beers. They would, however, be able to relate to stories about potty training nightmares, bronzer mishaps, and social apprehension between 4 year olds. These mothers that I had never met before today were helping to keep track of my children, feeding them chunks of watermelon and laughing at their general cuteness.  Finally, as I was sweeping a suspected rock out of C’s cheek (it was a pita chip), one of my new mom-peers asked, “Where’s B?” There were seconds of rising panic as we all scanned the beach in trying to spot him. Another mom pointed toward a sandcastle where I heard his concern escalating as he repeated, “Mom…MOM….” He was fine.  He was 30 feet away from us. But it was scary for everyone involved.

I sat down next to the other moms after the drama was through and I thanked the mom that had called my attention to my missing child. My cousin turned and said, “Well, they say that ‘ It takes a village.’ We all help each other out.” Amen Mama. We help each other physically when we have missing or hungry children, but we also help each other mentally, when we feel like there is nobody on earth out there that understands what we are going through. We share our stories, worries, and triumphs and realize that this is a place in time when the ONLY people that understand what we are going through are other moms/parents who are also going through it, right this second. Parenthood can be a very lonely place, until you find one of the umpteenth moms or dads that can share their stories, feed your children, and hold your baby while you load up 16 wet and sandy items into your arms before trudging to the car with your baby in a front pack and your four-year-old trailing two unused boogie boards over people’s beach blankets behind you.

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