My kids don’t like the beach. They don’t much care for the outdoors. I have evolved in to a woman who can’t get enough nature on my skin, in my lungs, and in my soul. As a mother, how do I come to peace with this?
When they were small I couldn’t wait until they were big enough to ride their bikes without training wheels so we could explore trails together. I looked forward to them reaching the minimum height and weight required to go white water rafting. I took them camping and hiking and to swimming holes deep in the forest. Now that they’re bigger, I’m so glad I don’t have to ride the water slides with them. I can sit out when they hit the big roller coasters. If they wanted to, they could ride their bikes to the mall, or the fro-yo place, or to their best friends’ house.
They don’t want to do the things I want to do. They don’t necessarily want to do the things they want to do with ME. And frankly, I don’t necessarily want to do the things they want to do, even if it means I get to do it with them.
What has happened?!
I am surprised over and over again by the mysteries of motherhood. No one told me they’d lose interest in me (I might have heard that they’d hate me, but I’m still not going to ever accept that). No one told me I might have a kid who is absolutely insatiable, no matter how hard I try. No one told me I’d savor the sweet taste of freedom when they pulled away from me…only to have the baby of the family clamoring for my attention all the time because her siblings are so “boring and mean.”
I try. I try to get them out with me. I lure them with stories of beauty (which they don’t buy). I bribe them. Usually with donuts. “We’ll stop and get donuts on the way home.” SO counter intuitive, so against my other motherhood-angst-inducing agent…their diet.
Maybe my ambivalence toward many of their pastimes is divine timing for my children. Maybe this is the natural progression of our journey together. All those years I put off my adventures in anticipation of sharing the glories of Mother Nature and all she has to offer with my children…and they want to go race little cars around an indoor track for $50.
I like the beach. The sound of the waves, the breeze off the water, the sand squishing under every curve of my foot, the vastness of the horizon, the buoyancy and oneness I feel when bobbing in the current…
My husband and I left them at the vacation house and went to the beach by ourselves. They watched MTV, colored, and slept till noon. This is their vacation too. Just as I can chose to spend my vacation in a constant state of struggle because no one wants the same thing, I can chose to enjoy the peace and flexibility that comes with getting away from the regular routine and surroundings. And just as they can spend their vacation complaining about the activities we do as a family, they can chose to find gratitude in what is being laid out before them; including endless hours of lounging, abundant fried food, and two parents who love them to the depths of the ocean.