I miss the ocean. The rhythmic push and pull of the tide coming in. Going out. The sound of the smooth rocks tumbling over one another just beneath the surface, rolling and clicking together. Then, settling into their places in the sand. Only for just for a moment. Before it happens all over again.
I miss the scent. The salt. The dewiness. The sense of calm that comes with each deep breath, drinking up that ocean air. The sunshine. Warmth and joy pressing down, without fail.
It’s where I go to feel free. It’s where I go to let it go of responsibility and to-dos. It’s where I go to be a kid and play and walk and run and just sit to listen to those rolling rocks tumbling and clicking again and again.
Right now, in this time of the Coronavirus and stay-at-home orders, the beach is closed.
Instead, I’m home. A place we’ve lived for years. A place with worn-in rugs and crusty dishes piled high. A place that sometimes feels too lived in. Too occupied. A small space holding up big feelings. A growing little girl. A marriage. Familiar walls holding photos of moments we never want to forget. But, I have a feeling we’re living in a time, though pressing, we’ll think of later and want back. A different kind of “never want to forget.”
The mornings without pressure. Nowhere to go. Nothing to do. No one to be, other than who we are to each other. Today is what we make it. So, even though she’s been awake for a while and it’s earlier than I’d like, I open her door, turn on the light and settle in for one of my favorite parts of the day.
Sometimes, she balances Pup on top of her bed rail. And she thinks it’s hilarious, like he got up there himself. “Puuuup, what are you doing up there?!” Sometimes, she wants to play preschool while we lay in her bed. Monkey and Kiki get a ride to school from Llama. It’s bumpy and silly and loud for 6:37am, but it makes me laugh and makes her feel loved.
We’ll think back on it all.
The mundane days that offered so much more than we thought at the time. Sparkling gems hidden amongst the endless messes and the tears. Like the day we were sitting in the bathroom, waiting for her to go potty. Playing “I spy…”, counting hearts on her jammies. Chatting endlessly about nothing and everything. And then, out of nowhere. “Mama, you look pretty.” Aww, Ver. “Your blue shirt and your ring. I like them.” Our daughters, keenly aware of our words. Our important role as mamas, making them feel seen and loved. And then, all of a sudden, in a tiny bathroom, on a tiny toilet, they burst forth with all they’ve stashed away in their little hearts, ready, confident to offer it back to the world and space from which it came.
And those were just four beautiful minutes out of the last 57,000+ minutes we’ve spent together.
Then, there are the creative ways we keep everyone chugging along. Things we Google. Things we borrow from other women, prayerfully piecing together their own hours before dinnertime. Five tries of different flavored popsicles. Frozen mangos and coconut milk blended and poured. Finger painting. Foot painting. The patience that is reborn inside a million moments like these. The tried and tested mama heart inside my tired, aching body that really just needs a nap. The empathy and grace that is grown. Scavenger hunts for bunnies and pinecones and pink petals. A necessary change of scenery. A seeming escape. But really, more sacred moments. More holding hands and conversations I’ll want to never forget.
The nights when Jesse plays his guitar, as he often does. Vera curls up next to me on the couch to sit, snuggle and sing. The way she often does. “Dada, play the one you like all the time.” Reckless Love. He does. Her little body is warm next to mine. My hand on her legs, that are growing longer as the seconds pass us by. My sometimes anxious girl who picks her fingers or projects silliness to create space between us, she sinks into my side and sings. After a while, she stands up. All the way up on the red stool, the one we’re always moving from room to room. We use it as a footrest. A ladder. A picnic table for her animals. A parking lot for her cars. Tonight, it is an auditorium. She climbs up, without prompting. Without help. Her feet cover the red, striped fabric. Her little voice eagerly waiting for the words she knows. And then, they come, “No shadow you won’t light up, mountain you won’t climb up, coming after me…” And it feels like so much has come full circle. The pushing and pulling, settling into the beautiful rhythm of worship in our living room.
We’ll miss it.
The never ending practice of squeezing out more of, the best of, each day. Planting snap pea seeds. Watering them. Checking on them every morning. Every evening. Becoming real life science labs and zookeepers and plant and beauty keepers of our front yards and driveways. Spaces we could easily pass by. But with a little love and care and creativity, we fill them with chalk art, make believe markets, an easel showcasing imagination and color and ideas from little, growing minds and hearts. Slug hunting after the rain. Bloom seeking after the sun. Heart filling after the recognition that God is truly, wholly, beautifully right in front of us. Even in this seemingly exhausted space.
We don’t have to let it all go.
I miss the sight and sound of those smooth rocks at the edge of the ocean. The peaceful song they sing. Over and over again. Not once, have I ever thought it to be too much of the same. Not once tiresome. Not once mundane. Not once have I prayed out of desperation for the rocks to just stop. The opposite really, I sit and wait for the next round of rhythmic sounds. The familiar clicking and rolling. The familiar tide chasing them in and then rushing them back out to the middle of the sea.
There are things I miss about the outside world. Of course. But I’m learning to recognize the beauty of them, inside our walls, out in our garden and on our modest patio.
Togetherness. That’s the agenda. The same you. The same me. Over and over again. Watering plants. Singing songs. Doing dishes. Bath time. Meal time. Mama needs alone time. Over and over again. Sometimes, it feels monotonous. But when I look closer, when I relax long enough to settle into the spot He has me, I feel free. The same sense of calm that comes from drinking in that ocean air. The same peace and ease from the clicking, tumbling rocks.
It’s a new rhythm we’re in. A new normal. One we didn’t know was coming. And, we don’t know when it’ll leave. But the deeper I sink into it, the more I want to settle in and stay. The more I realize and believe that the ocean may work magic, but God works wherever you invite Him in. No matter how long you’ve been there. No matter how long you’ll be.