In full disclosure, I’ve lived near the beach my entire life. Always within just a mere few minutes of a drive. I don’t understand the concept of going on vacation to the beach, when I live there. Don’t mistake me for failing to see the beauty of the beach. I love the beach, the water, even the sand. I respect the beach, the depths of the ocean, the dangers just outside of the shore, and the riptides that seem invisible to the naked eye. I even, to a degree, long for the beach. It holds great memories, invokes feelings of peace, and there is nothing like the smell of the salt air.
I can count on two hands the number of times I have been in the last year. In part, it is because of my fair skin. I have two shades white and red, period. I do not tan, or get a little color. I have had sun poisoning a few times in my life. I’d much rather take an evening stroll than sit and bake in the sun. As my dermatologist reminds me… I am the textbook case for getting skin cancer. Joy.
So many of my friends love the beach because it is an inexpensive place to take the kids, and we have access to it year long. I remember going to the beach as a teen, a tote bag and a towel. As a mom, we are lugging chairs, towels, umbrellas, toys, sunscreen, snacks, lotions, changes of clothes, etc. It feels more like work than pleasure, especially here where you can finally get settled and 30 minutes later a storm rolls in and you need to quickly pack up and run to the car.
I absolutely recognize that I am making excuses, there is no reason I can’t go to the beach with the kids and expect them to carry all of their own stuff. I know that I can go on my own when the kids are in school, meeting up with a friend or two (or being a big girl and staking out a spot all on my own). I can ask my husband to go with me on a walk at night. I’ve even considered having a bike rack put on the jeep so that we could take our bikes for ride along the shore.
The truth is, like many things, I have taken the ocean for granted. I have assumed it will always be there, exactly as I remember it. I’ve also assumed that I will always been in driving distance, or health, or whatever other assumption I’ve adopted to validate my excuse for saving beach trips for another day. This beautiful environment that the Lord has created, I put off enjoying for no real good reason. Procrastination, distraction? Maybe.
What about other aspects of God’s creation?
Our marriage? Our relationship with our children? Our health?
Do we take these things for granted? Do we assume that these too will always been the same? That there will be time for us to enjoy these relationships later on when life “life slows down”?
I made some assumptions a long time ago, that I’ve learned were far from true. I assumed once my kids were all in school, I’d be less busy. That I would have time for so many things that it turn out are still evading me. I assumed my other stay home mom friends and I would get together all of the time. Hardly. In fact, I count myself lucky if I can see them three times a year. I’m busy. They are busy. Life happens.
I now wish I would have made more of an effort to pack up the kids, when they were younger, and go to that play date or meet that friend at the park. I wish we went to the beach more. I wish I didn’t take things for granted, assuming that nothing would change or that things would get easier.
Something 40 has taught me is that my life isn’t over, there is still time to enjoy all of these things. It will take effort for some things, compromise for others. I may have to plan to make things happen, and reroute those plans when life intervenes. But, there is still time today, tomorrow, and all year long to change things from being taken for granted and into taking advantage of the blessing and opportunities before us.