Reading on The Beach: A Quest

All I wanted to do was read on the beach.

Saturday morning, my husband and I are chatting that we don’t have any plans for the day. This is almost unheard of as we always have a kiddo birthday party, a family event or travel plans to visit other family or friends that have us booked constantly. I was never so busy before having a kid.

We realize we have the whole day ahead of us. We hadn’t done anything just the three of us in ages. My husband has a long commute for work, so he’s never particularly keen on going anywhere that requires long stretches in the car and I don’t blame him. So when he suggested we go to Half Moon Bay (about an hour drive), I was surprised and totally game.

We used to do these kinds of spontaneous adventures all the time.  Pre child. But now they usually require quite a bit of forethought due to the requirements of needing all the things, and coordinating with naps.

But we looked at each other and knew that, miraculously, we were both willing to wing it. Let’s see how it goes! Visions of being laid out under an umbrella with my toes in the sand reading a book, my son playing with his sand toys, and my husband getting a sunburn because he always forgets to put on sunscreen all danced in my mind. It sounded amazing. A beach day. Just what we need to beat this summer heatwave.

I got started on a picnic lunch right away. If we really got moving, we could get in the car in time for nap and our kiddo would sleep the whole way. I made a quick mental list of all the things we would need, just the bare essentials (towels, sunscreen, sun hats, umbrella, beach blanket, sand toys, cooler with lunch, water, napkins, cups, diapers, wipes, change of clothes, extra shoes, car snacks, car toys, car charger, and my book. Just the essentials).

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His own personal little umbrella counts as an essential right?

Somehow, we managed to pack up the car and get on the road within an hour. The kiddo fell asleep within twenty minutes and I was feeling pretty smug. We were doing it! A spontaneous beach trip on a Saturday!

Then the GPS ETA kept climbing. Hour fifteen. Hour twenty. Hour forty. 2 hours.

Seems that everyone had our same idea. The kiddo woke up forty minutes later and was hot and tired. He hadn’t nearly slept long enough and we still had about forty five minutes of car time ahead of us.

As our car inched along, I decided to bring up super relaxing subjects such as, the secret and evil healthcare bill (I can’t even with this shit), whether or not Warriors sixth man and essential team member Andre Igoudala will sign a contract extension or not (don’t get me started), and having another baby (what?). Meanwhile, the temperature was climbing and our child was becoming more and more restless in the backseat. We had moved from smug to agitated in a matter of miles.

We finally arrived to our destination, the closest beach we could find, and parked. We decided not to make two trips and just haul everything on both of our backs while the kiddo walked. We start walking. We keep walking. We walk and walk and walk. We see no one. There is no turn off or actual beach entry in sight. We are overflowing with gear and pointy, bulky bags, sweating.

My kiddo keeps saying, “Ocean? Ocean?”

“It’s right up there, babe, just a little bit longer,” his mother says with swelling uncertainty.

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The (beautiful) walk to nowhere?

Just when I’m about to throw everything on the ground in a show of exhausted frustration, we finally reach the cliffside where a long staircase peeks out. It leads down to the beach. At last! Just down this steep, daunting staircase and we’ll be all set!

At this point our child is refusing to walk and I don’t blame him. We clocked it later and the walk from the parking spot to the actual beach was half a mile. We were the little family that could, determined to make this spontaneous trip FUN AND RELAXING.

We reach the beach without incident, find a great spot and set up. All the kid wants to do is run straight into the water. We run together and reach it, the icy Pacific cooling our hot, tired feet. It wasn’t warm enough to play in, not even close, so we go back to our spot and the guys start playing in the sand.

Now’s my chance, I thought.

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Miracles happen every day.

I set up a towel for a pillow, lean back and dive into my book. Half a page in, my kiddo is by my side asking for snacks. Lunchtime.

I set the book aside, determined to return, and unpack the picnic. We eat and watch the waves, and I’m getting more relaxed by the minute. Not thinking about the half mile walk back to the car with all the gear, not thinking about the two hour drive home when everyone decides to leave at the same time, and not thinking about the forty minute nap my kid got instead of his usual 2 hours. Super relaxed.

Once we’re all done eating, my husband grabs the kiddo and they start playing.

“Read,” he says. “I got him”

Have I mentioned how sexy he is?

I lean back and read. I read and read and read for about ten whole pages before my kiddo is by my side again. He wants to play with me AND daddy.

I set my book down with a longing sigh. I just wanted to read on the beach.

But then I look at him, at his bright, clear eyes, his mischievous smile, his long arms opening for a hug and I reset myself. I’m a mom with a darling kid at the beach and he wants to play. Duh, we gotta play.

So my husband and I bury him in the sand to his unending giggles. We look for sea glass and make sand castles and dig holes and take pictures. It’s glorious.

After a few hours, the wind picks up. It’s time to make the trek back to the car.

It was a lot of driving, a lot of stuff, a lot of walking, all for a pretty short beach visit. But I didn’t pick up my book again, and I didn’t even notice.

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