Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Beach Phenomenon

Guess what? I recently found out that I don't hate the beach!

I found this out shortly after the last time we went there, which was on January 2nd. We live in such an amazing part of the world that my kids were in swimsuits and in the water (granted freezing cold water, but did they notice? No.) on the day after the new year turned over. That particular winter day, it was about 70 degrees and my relatives from Oklahoma were here visiting. My family took them to one of our most favorite spots on the earth: the beach below where The Montage resort sits in Laguna Beach. It is about 15 minutes from our house. The breathtaking panoramic views from the bluff above, where the hotel lies, are certainly the reason it pulls in $600/night for the cheapest room (or so I've heard). The incredible tide pools, dramatic rock formations, and regular dolphin and sea lion sightings make it near heavenly to me.

However, despite the beauty of this place, I normally cringe at the thought of beach day. For some reason, I didn't that day. I happily packed up the gear, toys, towels, and snacks. I joyfully watched my kids explore and splash. I loved every minute of it. And then recently, I realized, looking back, that something was not right about that much happiness. "Wait a second," I said to myself, "I thought I hated the beach." That's been my solid stance for a handful of years, but I accidentally enjoyed my whole day. What is up with that?

Well, I'll tell you. What was up is now what I call the Beach Phenomenon. What I really hated was the way my job got harder at the beach because of the circumstances created by the little people I was with! I didn't hate the beach; I hated the many consequences of being at the beach with two small children. I hated the sand in the hair, in every single package of food, on the blanket, in the car, in the swim diaper, etc. I hated the feeling of insecurity due to crowds of strangers and helpless toddlers. Then there's the senseless combination of mixing unpredictable tiny children who can't swim with an unpredictable large body of water and of course I hated bringing my little ones there! Way too much chaos. And I hate chaos.

But on January 2nd, I loved it, and I now realize it was because there were no little ones with me! They are bigger ones now, who can kind of swim, kind of reason in terms of what's dangerous, kind of listen, and kind of respond when I give the evil eye as they hover over the blanket with a sandy foot. What a revelation this was. And I have a sneaking suspicion the Beach Phenomenon has been occurring in other areas of my life. Where else have I just decided certain things are bad because they were so incredibly unpleasant with little babies? So I have to ask, What else can I un-hate? Perhaps camping? Road trips? The lines at Disneyland? Chuck E. Cheese (nope, sorry, I can't un-hate that one).

The bottom line is that here is one more way my growing children are opening my eyes. For those of you with babies still, maybe you can find comfort in my little light at the end of tunnel. And it is a poor analogy to say motherhood is the equivalent of a tunnel, because it's not. But you just don't realize how much enjoyment in your life has dissipated due to being a parent until you have the freedom to glance around and actually enjoy something. I'm looking for more things to un-hate. If you're in my shoes, let me know if you think of any. Ooh. Plane rides.

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