I admit it – I am a hopeless romantic at heart, a daydreamer, a Hallmark Channel Movie groupie and an avid Pinterest pinner. I like to walk in the rain and catch snowflakes on my tongue and I believe in fairies. One of my favorite things to do is to get up in the morning and watch the sunrise over the ocean.
It had been six long years since my spouse and I had been on a vacation that did not involve going to a truck show. Our household is pet less for the first time in almost thirty six years of marriage and when my oldest granddaughter asked me in late June what we were going to do for my birthday in August, I knew that now was the time to plan a family getaway to the beach. The timing was perfect, the entire family could make the seven hour trip to Ocean City, Maryland.
I secured a condo that was only a couple of blocks from the beach. I booked a photographer whose work I have admired for over seven years for a family beach photo session. I had a secret Pinterest board compiled of my hopes and dreams for what I thought would be a Hallmark worthy family vacation. Steve and I actually attended the Carlisle Truck Nationals on the way to the ocean. I told him on the trip down, “No work. We are not doing ANY work on the six days we have off.” I forgot to factor in that the newspaper deadline would be the week after we returned home. I also forgot to factor in that my two month old work computer had crashed and burned three days before we left, and I was forced to deal with this problem while standing on the Boardwalk, fighting with the “Genius Bar”. Life can be a real beach sometimes…
The evening of our beach photo session arrived, and I discovered that my Pinterest vision of my family wearing clothing in hues that mimicked a sunset was not going to happen. One grandkid plugged the toilet with an excessive amount of Charmin and overflowed the bathroom minutes before we were to walk out the door. Traffic from the north side of OC to the Pier was typical, which means that we crawled like a snail. We parked and walked briskly, well as briskly as you can with three kids and an enormous tote bag that contained mermaid tails and extra clothes. We met Heather, our photographer and some family members expressed consternation that we should remove our shoes – for a photo session – where we would be standing in the sand. One child did not one to smile, one wanted to just lie in the sand and cover herself from head to toe and the little dude just wanted to dive into the water. Did I mention that life can be a beach? Because yeah, it can be. Heather was a saint dealing with us and worked her magic and delivered stunning images.
I will admit that I had some teary moments during our vacation because it was not like the Hallmark movie version that I adore. And then it hit me – our family is not a Hallmark movie. We are loud, opinionated and can be obnoxious about 83% of the time. We can also be kind and loving and supportive. Did my family dislike the idea of having a beach photo session? Yes, yes, they did – but they did it because that is what I asked for my birthday. Eight of us survived, co-existing in a condo. I will forever treasure the nightly visits that Althea paid me, her little piggy toes peeking out from underneath her nightgown as she sweetly asked me, “Gaga will you sleep with me?” And I did, I crawled into that bottom bunk bed and snuggled up to her until she drifted off to slumberland.
I cherish the memory of sharing a hot funnel cake with 3 pairs of sticky little fingers on the Boardwalk. I recall with much love that Mackenna brought “coins from my bank to buy dinner for the family every night.” We ate ice cream every night. Declan and I constructed a sand pit and created roads so that Sammy Steamshovel could load up Danny Dumptruck with sand. Declan chased seagulls on the beach and Mackenna rode the waves of the Atlantic Ocean. Althea and Declan, along with Pap Steve, spent an evening ghost crabbing on the Assateague National Seashore. We shared the ocean with wild ponies. My girls were mermaids, flipping their tails in the sand as the breeze whipped their hair. I had early morning walks on the beach and watched the sun make her dramatic ascension from the ocean, creeping higher and higher until she finally set the sky on fire.
Life’s truly a beach, full of ebbs and flows. Our vacation was filled with ups and downs, much like our family dynamic and that’s ok, because that’s who we are.