Every summer I dream of doing the beach house thing, the pack-all-your-favorite-people-in-and-play-lots-of-games thing. It never happens, as I usually end up looking for something in June and everything is gone. But this year I swore things would be different. Having a baby in the beginning of the summer meant no huge trips, but a beach weekend? Totally doable. One of my students connected me with her family’s beach house rental, and last weekend we headed to Bethany Beach to enjoy Labor Day.
By “we,” I mean 13 adults, 2 toddlers, 3 babies.
And then Hurricane Hermine rolled up the coast, and we spent Saturday morning listening to driving rain and howling winds, wondering if we should leave before the roads flooded. Most of us opted to risk it and stay, and we were rewarded when the storm was downgraded Saturday afternoon. Not exactly the weekend of catching up on tans and beach reading that we expected, but a great weekend nonetheless.
And obviously, it was over documented, so here are way too many pics of our weekend with babes at the beach.The general consensus is that my sister-in-law Ruth would probably be a better parent than any (all?) of us. She spent a lot of the weekend under piles of babies and books, with nary a complaint. Susannah and I have been friends since elementary school and I cannot begin to tell you how special it is that life happened in such a way that we both moved 9 hours away from home, but next to each other. We have always talked about wanting to vacation with our families over the years and IT IS HAPPENING AND I CAN’T GET OVER IT. Susannah is also the best photographer, and I plaster her work all over this blog at least once a year, though this year we are already on the second go since she did Henry’s newborn photos. We did some beach photos for each others’ families over the weekend, and if it looks like we are all wearing the same pants… we mostly are. Leslie had her own pair, but, in the truest gesture of friendship, Susannah took hers off and passed them over moments before our photos when I deemed all my own options unacceptable. We spent all of Saturday venturing out in shifts to brave the crazy wind and marvel at the massive waves. There is something humbling about facing the power of an angry ocean. When indoors, we played a lot of games and ate obscene amounts of junk food. Henry’s smug dictator face is the best, especially in contrast with Ava’s perpetual, sweetly concerned face. Ok. Let’s have a moment of honesty, because these serene pictures of our outing to the Rehoboth boardwalk for dinner Sunday night are only part of the truth. Yes, it was lovely, and yes, we ate tasty food. But taking out 3 babies and a toddler at bedtime, in a cold wind, with no plan, was a terrible idea. There were tears, there was screaming, there was even some blood. The evening culminated with half of us in an ice cream parlor surrounded by babies who were losing it and parents who couldn’t stop laughing because that was the only way to keep from crying. Here’s the thing about life with babies: it is absolute chaos, not too different than the hurricane charging up the east coast. The posse of littles underfoot this weekend were exceptionally well behaved (do babies even “behave”?), but they are still tiny humans who just aren’t always in control. They still cry, with or without reason, they still have tiny little needs and schedules that dictate life whether you like it or not. It can be frustrating and even isolating. But spending this weekend surrounded by family and friends who are at the same stage of life that we are at reminded me of the deep joy of doing this crazy kid thing together. I am so thankful for this tribe, this village, this posse of parents and friends who really get where we are at now because they are there too. They are ready to jump in with an extra set of hands and an open heart.
I’m still not totally ready to give up summer, but this weekend did feel like a good finale to all that has been so precious from the past couple months.