When I was a young child my father bought a boat. He taught himself to sail and then we began to take summer trips to Catalina Island. My parents would load us up and we would go out for a few days, anchor in the tiny harbor and take a small inflatable dinghy to the shore. It was not a short trip by sail and I was a terrible sailor. My mother would load up on those light plastic produce bags and I would load them up with barf. But I always loved the island, the long days in Avalon, the gentle waves, playing all day in the sand and eating peanut butter sandwiches.
My father liked to sail at night and there is a story I have told since I was old enough to be a story teller. It goes like this…one night my mother came down to the cabin and she woke me from sleep. She took me on deck in the dark. I remember wondering if it was so I could barf. But we were not moving, mired by a seasonal crop of floating seaweed. My dad was trying to free us up from the seaweed with oars. And in my story there was a pod of dolphins helping, chittering away as they aided my father in pulling the seaweed away from the boat. And then we were free and they swam at the helm, pacing our small sailboat.
I cherish this story dearly, but just went to corroborate with my father and he explained that there was seaweed and there were dolphins, but neither had anything to do with each other. Ah, the stories of childhood as they fall away into truth. I feel a little sad after hearing that today.
Lately I feel like that bad sailor again. I cannot find my sea legs. We have had so many changes happening and I have once again lost my sense of balance. It makes me think parenting is like sailing, constantly navigating a changing and challenging landscape. Foreign to me, exhausting and foreign.
It makes me realize that if my analogy holds true, I may never be very good at this. I am proving to be not very good at sailing the seas of parenting right now. I am worried about the boys and their adjustment to the changes; this is being compounded by tantrums and willfulness, by two boys deciding to drop their nap. For a few days we have had nothing but nutty behavior. And poor sleep for everyone, every day. I am short tempered and impatient. I am starting to feel like I need a barf bag. Ugh.
And I am starting to feel like sometimes this parenting gig is not terribly fair. Because I realize we are just at the start and I seem to have some issues with change and compromise and keeping my cool. And who knows what is over the next swell.
I hope there is a harbor, a small calm safe harbor with gentle waves lapping the protected beach and simple peanut butter sandwiches that everyone enjoys. Just a few days of respite.
Next weekend Tim and I are taking a solo trip, not to a beach, but a lake. I do better with lakes. Let us hope this trip provides the breather I am desperate to take, no barf bags included. Just a little quiet time, a little regrouping and a little practice on finding my sea legs. Because I really want to sail on this ship better than those early days.
*I have to give my parents props for taking four small children out to sea, feeling good and confidant about it, giving us the experience, barfy as it was for me.
*And I just went in and laid down with them for a bit to regroup…and their sleep breathing and sleep sounds and snuggles made me think I can find those legs after all.
*And damn, Owen can snore. Like a drunken sailor.