Well, it finally happened. We finally hit the point where we went to the beach so much in one summer that I was feeling a little embarassed when people asked me where we have been. “The beach again!!??” We live in the South. We live in a community where many people belong to pools and participate in summer swim programs or play an outdoor sport. But everywhere I go people comment on how tan my children are. Which let me just say, I have very little to do with. I may get tan, but my kids get TAN. I swear I cover them in 50+ SPF and spend the day reapplying and telling them to wear hats and put on swim shirts, but somehow they still wind up tan. It is a large contributor to our beach enjoyment. I don’t have to worry about them frying in the sun in the first hour of exposure. Thank goodness!
But back to my beach shame. I was starting to feel guilty for spending so much of the summer away from home, and then we got back from our final 3 day trip to attend our staff’s Football Kickoff Dinner. Our head coach mentioned the fact that many average careers don’t have a season where you have 5 months without a day off. I let that sink in for a minute. He didn’t mean Monday-Friday without a day off. He meant Sunday-Sunday…day after day after day. Those Saturday football gamedays that people look so forward to: my husband’s most pressing work day. Sundays? 7:30 church and then into the office for the longest work day of the week. It was the perfect reminder that it is silly to compare our July with a regular July. If we added up the weekends of Aug-Dec we would land north of the number of days we spent at the beach this summer. That’s not even considering winter recruiting…or spring recruiting…or official visit weekends…or camp season.
And more important than some random math is the fact that those beach days allow for us to spend time with our parents and brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews. They allow for our kids to run and play with their cousins. Our families live more than 6 hours away…most in the 10 hour range. Without these weeks our kids might grow up with cousins they see on a Christmas card. That is not the life we wanted for our kids. Both Nick and I are children from close families (as evidence by the fact that our entire extended families have made it to the beach for a solid week since we moved to Winston Salem in 2014.) And all of that summer vacation reasoning brought us to my favorite beach trip of the year: my husband, our 5 kiddos, and me.
When we go on our big family trips the kids run off with their cousins to play in the ocean and the adults settle in to our beach chairs to reconnect with our siblings and our parents. (Although in the age of technology we hear from then frequently via group text during the rest of the year.) But our little vacation…that’s the time when I get to talk to my husband. That’s the time my kids get to run and play together. Where I’m reminded how blessed we are that our kids get along so well. And we get time to soak up being a family right before the season comes crashing back. We leave our trip feeling connected and known by each other. We shared memories that we will be able to talk about for the rest of our lives. We get to really enjoy this big family we wanted so badly. And if that leaves me feeling a little abundantly fortunate to finish off the summer I supposed I will just count it as a blessing. And search back through the beach pictures on late Sunday nights when I’m missing July.