Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Body Surfing

"Let's go on a bug hunt," my youngest said. A first coating of mud was already hardening under his stubby fingernails. His smile exploded across his face.

"Give me a second," I walked inside and changed out of my pajama bottoms, then refilled my coffee cup.

I didn't want to go on a bug hunt. I wanted to sit at the kitchen table and check Facebook updates on my phone. To crawl up into myself like a hermit crab.

The boys tumbled into the kitchen, "We need bread! We need bread!" my oldest sang.

"For the bugs! For the bugs!" yelped the youngest.

I had hoped they had forgotten. Every pore sighed as I trudged over to the cabinet, dug out the butt end of a loaf. I forced a smile, and reached for my sunglasses. "Let's go!"

We walked through our neighborhood, and as the boys handed me Black-Eyed Susans, rocks, and green gum ball pods, I berated myself. Shake this off. Enough. Smile and mean it. 

I held on to my youngest hand, called out "Red Light," whenever my oldest ran away too far. We trudged up a hill, our meanderings leading us to the beach, to my beloved Chesapeake.

And there were waves. Not the normal gentle nudges, like those of a lapdog. These were Golden Retriever waves. Crashing, Wind swept, full of salt and danger and light.
We rested by the water's edge. I held my boys close, as the surf splashed our faces and arms. Then, I stood up. I waded in.

The water smacked my legs, drenching my yoga pants and shirt. The boys ran toward me. Youngest gripped my hand, as each wave pounded his frame. "I won't let you go," I said. I was grateful for my sunglasses, as I blinked back the tears, "I will always be here for you."

"Okay, Mommy," he said, "Jump! Jump! Jump!"

My oldest rode the waves, body-surfing for the first time in his five years. For the first time that day, I smiled without trying.

Because this is what a lifetime of liturgy does to a person, I remembered my baptism. I closed my eyes and felt the water, and remembered that I am never truly alone. That family and love and the grace of a spontaneous morning swim are stronger than hard mornings and illness and Daddy being gone a lot to see Grandma.
We walked home, sodden but light. I gave the boys baths, and we washed away all that clung to us.

And then, finally, joyfully, we set out into the world.  


Alice said...

This is lovely, Nancy!

Formerly known as Frau said...

beautifully written....

erin margolin said...

I can so, so relate to this. Every bit of it.

Thank goodness for sunglasses.

I love you.

katydid2193 said...

I love this story. I am crying now-perfect read after the day I had yesterday! Beautifully written! ;)

tsonodablog said...

Nancy, this was so lovely, so poignant. Your writing always bring out so many emotions in me, as I'm sure it does all your readers. The uniqueness of this post was the fact that I can completely relate. I have no small children and my grandsons live far away, however I know how it feels to want to withdraw into yourself. To protect yourself from the world. To feel what you want to feel, however selfishly, and if only for a moment. And as time performs its magic, we find a way to appreciate all we have. And also to love and live and be a part of.....the world.
Thanks again for making my day a little sweeter.

TKW said...

This is beautiful, Nancy.

Kim said...

Yes, I have felt this so often, the not wanting to do anything. And oh my goodness, what am I going to do when they want to go bug hunting??? I loved this Nancy. So envious that you are that close to the water too.

CDG said...

You have a knack for far more than middle-class ennui, my friend. You have a knack for distilled beauty.

Cheryl said...

Sigh. This is so very beautiful, Nancy.

Hugs to you.. xo

Victoria KP said...

This is absolutely lovely. Thank you for sharing this day with us.

Minivan Lover said...

Lovely- every day should start this way :)

Coby said...

So beautiful! I had a similar moment this morning - where suddenly nothing mattered more than holding my boys' hands and all four of us jumping and singing to music in our pajamas.

You put it so wonderfully - our family and love and spontaneous joy are stronger than anything thrown at us.

Julie said...

Family and love and the grace of a spontaneous morning swim are stronger than just about anything.

And you really are never alone.

There is so much beauty here, Nancy.
So much joy for you in the world.

Hugs to you and your family...

Ash said...

These are the things your boys will remember and treasure, I am certain. You're doing a fantastic job mama.

(So pea green you may walk to salt water. Pea green.)

Sara said...


This was a great post. A reminder how children can bring back up to life and joy simply by being who they are.

This line is worth noting, "Not the normal gentle nudges, like those of a lapdog. These were Golden Retriever waves." I loved it and it did remind me of my favorite water -- The Gulf of Mexico, which sometimes is quiet like a bath and then other times is wild, daring you to enter crashing waves:~)

Your writing is lovely. I enjoyed this. Have a great weekend.