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You Don't Have to Love the Beach

Not EVERYONE has to LOVE the beach! 

Okay - there - I said it! I don't love the beach, and maybe you don't either. Maybe it's time for people to openly admit that the beach isn't EVERYONE'S happy place, not everyone's paradise... it's okay if you prefer the mall, your mother's front porch, or even your bed. I certainly prefer all three of those things, and feel like there is a giant stigma that in the summer, everyone has to love the beach. Let's all just stop pretending that humidity, sand and scary waves are everyone's dream vacation. It's okay to prefer to stay home, let your kids run around in the living room or on your front lawn with a hose. It's okay to feel nervous about going to large public places even if they are outdoors. And it's certainly okay to opt out of never ending sand and schlepping in a crew neck with sleeves and my head covered.

It has taken me years to admit this. This summer, after a few weekend trips to the Jersey shore, I have finally openly started admitting that I simply do not enjoy it there. I told my husband it is time for me to just be real - be honest - and tell it like it is. When I am at the beach, I will check my phone by the minute to see how much longer the wait is before I can take my baby back to the house for his nap. And by the way - the baby? Yea - he's one and a half years old, and I have to carry him in an backpack carrier, because walking on sand simply sucks. Say that five times fast.

I was never a beach person growing up. Maybe this is where it stems from. My family may have gone now and again, but we mainly visited my grandparents in Florida where we went swimming at the clubhouse pool; we certainly didn't own a shore house like many of my friend's families. The beach was a nuisance with unwanted sand tracked through the car, a sure sunburn on my pale skin, and gosh...the amount of stuff you have to take with you to even enjoy it for five minutes: chairs, food, sunscreen, towel, umbrella, wallet in a secure dry space, extra chairs, extra food, extra towel...

My husband, on the contrary, lives for the beach. The fact that his two babies love it as much as he does is a pure blessing for him and a curse for me. Our two children don't want to eat sand, and have not yet gotten sunburnt despite their pale complexion (You're welcome that I packed the sunscreen, sweetie. Read: Mom's Job #47). The three of them can sit out there all day, my husband in a chair with his feet at the water's edge, the kids running circles around him. They will live for hours on cheeze-its and twizzlers, a giant gallon ziplock bag of cut up fruit, and water bottles. They need nothing else, and my husband's heart is full.

So, why does this feel so unsettling to me? Why do I feel guilty? I guess part of me likes the idea of the beach. I love the idea of sitting there (alone or with my husband) with a book in my hand and my feet in the sand. I love the idea of sitting to relax, watching the waves, resting my eyes while the beach air flows through my fingers. I WANT to love the beach in real life. I am feeling a real sense of imbalance between what I want and what is real. I am trying to make peace with that. I have been coming to terms with this concept the entire time we've been home from during the Covid pandemic:

  • I want to be a good mother. Reality: I'm losing my temper a bit too often.
  • I want to be a good wife. Reality: I am not giving enough attention to my relationship.
  • I want to cook nutritious meals for my family. Reality: What's a quick frozen option that can be ready in 10 minutes?

I really hope we can all come to terms with our realities during this difficult time, and be kind to ourselves for choosing the truth. It's okay to be honest and forthright about how we really feel. If we can't be honest about the little things, how will be honest with ourselves about the big ticket items in our lives that need exploration and attention?

In the mean time, I realize that I have to suck it up and just go to the beach if I want to make my kids and husband happy. So I will try my hardest to do it with a smile, get through the tough years of beach trips and the sand-filled aftermath, and count down until my kids are big enough to do the schlepping themselves.

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