Blonde headed boys with freckles play in the surf. Dad is throwing the Frisbee, mom is attempting to smear them with suntan lotion before they are completely wet. Sister is drawing circles in the sand with her toes and picking at seashells looking for the perfect one. A wagon overflowing with beach toys sits beside the umbrella and empty chairs. I wanted to say, “You won’t need those chairs. It’s a waste of energy to haul them out here because you will not be sitting down.” Instead I sat back in my own middle aged chair, closed my eyes, and listened to the sound of a young family on vacation. The fact that it was not my own little family filled me with a mixture of both longing and relief.
The sounds were oh so familiar to my ears. Mom reminding the kids to watch the beach so they didn’t drift. Boys chasing one another, smashing sandcastles and diving under waves…or riding them. I couldn’t keep my eyes closed for long. I had to watch. One of the boys danced in the waves. He had twice the energy of the others. His constant movement caught my attention right away. His action caused me to time travel a bit to the days when my own boys frolicked beside me at the sea. Maybe this boy reminded me of my William so much because today is William’s birthday, or maybe it was just because his red swim shorts and little water shoes highlighted his tan little legs and body that chased the waves in and out on the shore. His giggles and enthusiasm were contagious to his siblings and exhausting for his mother, who smiled while she yearned just to sit in her chair. I could see it in her eyes, and I wanted to say, “Enjoy every tiring, exhilarating, weary, fun-filled minute, because before you know it he will be 21, and you will have all the time in the world to sit in your chair and listen to the waves, because they will be grown.”
Rather than put a damper on her day, I chose instead to think of my middle son, William, of whom I am so proud. My creative boy, who has marched to his own drummer since the day he was born. Tenderhearted, and as generous as he is caring, I am amazed at the young man he has grown into. You look at your kids when they are little and try to imagine what they will be like when they are “adults.” Each of them has their own set of interests and personality traits. They are uniquely gifted and have their own weaknesses. You mold them the best you can, try to impart wisdom and pray to God they will become healthy, happy adults. There is no way to know what that will look like as they make their own decisions. I have to say, as I often do, it does keep a mom on her knees, but when I look at this boy on this birthday I am thankful for his heart. I am overwhelmed with love for him as much now as when he was a little tow-headed boy playing in the sea without a care in the world. Sitting in my middle age chair I soak in the freedom I have now, and while I am relieved that it is not me that has to keep up with young children any longer, I wouldn’t trade that time with my kids for all the tea in China. Happy birthday William. XOXOXOXO