It was Monday, April 14, 2014. The first official day of Spring Break, and I did what any ambitious, sanity-valuing mama would have done. I made peace with reality (aka, if-we-tarry-in-this-place-we-will-be-homicidal-by-2:00), stuck one eyeball through a slat in the blinds and saw sunshine. “We’re going to the beach!” I chirped.
I welcomed a smile into my soul and grabbed the beach bag from the closet, shaking last year’s sunscreen to assess our supply. I confirmed that our baby powder – in its cloudy Ziploc – was still in place and haphazardly grabbed snacks and juice boxes and beach towels and made haste for our departure.
// Time Out: Baby powder is the supreme sand removal agent at the end of a beach day. Carry on with your lives, people. //
The girls’ lukewarm response could not diminish my internal horn-tootin’. Their shortsightedness could not see the harrowing pitfalls of staying at home. My seasoned sensibilities knew the danger. “This is brilliant!” I self-congratulated.
Not wanting to lose momentum, I enlisted Chris’ help clothing the people, loading and gassing the Jeep.
“You want me to put the top up?”
“What kind of question is that? Absolutely not. We want the top down for the beach…” I replied with one eyebrow raised in indignation. I pursed my lips and shook my head at the thought as I entered the closet for a cover-up.
In record time for a morning-averse family, we were in reverse down the driveway. We stopped for an absurd length of time to capture this special moment (and seventeen other very similar special moments just before this one)…
Cookie, you are the real MVP of parenting, I gushed as I released the clutch and sped away.
As we crested the overpass just outside our neighborhood, Campbell belted over the gale, “Mama, I’m cold.” As the roofline of our house grew faint in the distance, I cranked the heater and assured her it was all part of the fun.
I repeatedly punched the radio button, insistent on dialing up some vintage country for the occasion. “Mom, do we have to listen to this?” Carson groused.
Unfazed I was.
If I lead with positivity, they will eventually succumb to the merriment of the day, I rallied with a mental fist bump.
About the time we passed the bank, I noticed a down comforter of complete cloud cover. I dared not state the unfortunate and obvious but felt certain the sun was working its magic on the coast. Regardless of how it treats us inland folks, it’s obligated to play nice at the beach….especially during Spring Break.
As we headed east, I nailed the accelerator to the floor as the wind buffeted us for our hour and a half drive. Campbell, with no protection from the battering, regularly registered her displeasure.
“We’ll be there soon, and you can ride in the front on the way home, ” I leveraged.
Once I glanced in the rear view mirror and saw her flapping behind us from the roll bar. She appeared to have a tight grasp, so I kept driving. Press on, sister. Perseverance is a virtue.
When we arrived I cruised the strip in search of a public access with parking, rejecting a dozen or so for one deficiency or another. Too crowded. No available parking. Sketchy surroundings. I finally chose one.
No restaurants or stores in sight.
Obviously, I was winning the day.
A dense meringue concealed the sun, but there was still the sand and the surf. There was still fun to be had.
And what fun we had!
For seven and a half minutes.
“We’re bored. We want to go home.”
I had no hearing for such nonsense. “We just got here. Go make some friends; build a sand castle and moat. Jump the waves with your sister. Collect cool shells in one of our buckets.” I was full of ideas.
“Mom, this is ridiculous. The sun’s not even shining, and we’re cold.”
“We’re not leaving,” I resolutely announced as I tilted my chin skyward, leaning my head against the chair. Eyes closed behind my shades, basking in the dingy cloudiness. You can still get a tan on an overcast day, you know.
I was committed to the mission. Fun was no longer a consideration; it was all about completion.
An hour and a half later, the heavy grey rolled in, and fat raindrops peppered the sand. “Grab everything quickly and run to the Jeep; if we hurry we can probably get ahead of the rain,” I yelled.
Have I failed to mention that I had NO IDEA how to put the top up on the Jeep? My plan was to outrun the afternoon storm. We layered any source of dry warmth, rolled the windows up, blared the heat, and tore westward. Racing the rain. We were golden.
For seven and a half miles.
Traffic stopped. We were gridlocked in the center lane. People to our right stared. People to our left stared. I smiled at them as though we were not stranded inside a mobile aquarium. The girls……..they did not smile at them. Carson looked over at a disturbed passerby and mouthed, “Adopt me.”
Ride or die, ladies.
No pain, no gain.
Life is like a box of chocolates.
All about that Jeep life.
You’re never fully dressed without a smile.
I mean, how many clichés could we live in one day?
I didn’t pull off to find shelter. I didn’t stop at a gas station to find someone to pull the top up. I didn’t take us to a mall or a movie until the rain passed. I gave no moment’s thought to formulating Plan B. That’s not what I do. I get a thing in my head and all else becomes background noise.
Hyper-focus gone crooked.
I did allow the girls to persuade me to stop at my parents’ – about halfway through our disastrous return – for dry clothes and Papa’s Jeep expertise.
Once we were home, a dry though sour Campbell commented on my Instagram post of the picture above:
“Werst trip ever.”
Carson was probably in her room trying to call DHEC or the Department of Social Security (as she frequently threatens) for my dogged inflexibility.
I have a problem.
And the worst part………I have replicated myself.
Reproduce responsibly, people.
[Images: Brittni Gee Photography, Vanessa Myers, and Ame Rainey]