Thursday, May 26, 2016

God the Parent

Walking on the beach this morning I passed two families who were staking their claim for the day. There were five children ages five years and under between the four parents. It was 10:45 a.m. and they were readying everyone for the day. The tent cabana was assembled, the wagon full of beach toys in place, and the chairs opened.
One parent was holding the 8-month-old as he dozed off for his mid-morning nap. Another sat with his daughter as she pulled every toy out of the wagon. His job was to fill each with sand to start their castle. Another chased her 2-year-old around the cabana with a can of sunscreen in her hand while he ran screaming. The fourth stood at the edge of the ocean, one child in a life jacket and the other not yet secured in his. The parent patiently held watch as they jumped in and out of the edge of the water, occasionally ushering a “not too far” and “come a little closer”.
Five years from now the children will not remember this day. They won’t remember the seaweed washed ashore or the line of broken shells they crossed to reach the ocean. The seagull overhead will be little more than a flash in their mind one day when they return to the beach. Tomorrow they will look at their parents and say “Remember the time we went to that place with the sand?”. Their parent’s response: “You mean yesterday?”. Then years from now their parents will repeat the question back to them. The kids’ response will be “No. When was that?”
Twenty-five years from now the children may remember. They may think to send a card, write a text, make a call to say “I just remembered when we went to the beach with the Welchels! Thanks for doing all that work.”.
But they may not. They may only remember the feeling of joy and laughter.
That doesn’t change the fact that the parents will pack up hundreds of beach necessities this afternoon only to pull it back out tomorrow. The parents will apply the sunscreen, pack the snacks, and hold the fussing and napping children. They will lug the tonnage of toys, chairs, tents, and coolers back to the beach tomorrow with the hope for one blessed moment.

That blessed moment will be enough. Parents and children will carry it with them from today; an abiding sense of unfettered pleasure and happiness; a feeling that will sustain them when all is not perfect and sunny. And that will have been worth it.

The elusive moment of quiet.

Making memories, even if fleeting.

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