Dear tired travel softball mom,
Stay strong sister. When we spread our blanket on the beach near you at the end of a difficult day, I had no idea how happy you would make me.
We were on the last day of a family vacation. A vacation where I told my kids over and over to stop. “Stop what?” they asked. All of it. I needed them to stop it all.
Stop poking, hitting, and shoving each other. Quit yelling in my ear while wwre driving in the van – its Mario Kart not the Indy 500. Stop being full after five bites of lunch then begging me for snacks all afternoon. Quit announcing you are bored on tours you asked to go on. Playing hide-and-seek in the museums, and getting mad at me for not getting you out of a 350′ deep mine tour fast enough all needs to stop too.
We went to the beach that evening with one goal: wear these lunatics out so they go to bed without me losing my shit. They hit in the water and their land shenanigans carried on in the water.
“Quit going past the swim buoy”, “don’t hold each other under water”, “quit throwing rocks” and “you’re out too deep again” all came spewing from my mouth from my place on the warm sand. I could feel the dark, heavy weight of failure sitting on me like a wet blanket.
That’s when you turned in your chair, saw your son had buried himself to his bellybutton and you told him to “stop it and go rinse off!” in an all too familiar tone.
Our eyes met under huge sunglasses, you smiled, and I held up a fist yelling “stay strong sister!” From there, conversation flowed like the salve my battered mom heart needed so badly after a particularly draining week.
You were also hoping swimming would wear your son out. You cannot vacation without melatonin on hand, just like me. You needed to explain to a child how to rinse off in the water repeatedly as if this was a new concept. We agreed children are why wine was invented.
“You can tell yours are siblings, they’re doing normal sibling stuff” was one of the kindest things I’ve ever heard. All week they looked like heathens compared to the other kids and campers we encountered. The looks we acquired from the Judey McJudgersons made want to crawl under a rock.
The other families on the beach were laughing and playing together like I wish we were, but you didn’t seem to notice those people. Or care. Whatever.
Your shared misery, warm acceptance, and friendly commiseration pulled the heavy failure blanket from me.
This is what motherhood should be. Support, love, friendship, and laughter while we all stumble through the jungle of parenthood. Thank you for that reminder and refueling my heart.
Exhausted, but not failing, vacation mom