Our beach vacation is over. It is always sad to have it end, but comforting to come back home.
As we set out on this vacation, I had a lot of expectations. We went to Ogunquit Beach last year and had a fabulous time. Jamie loved everything about the beach, and Clare was a happy baby in her little playpen and in the Baby Bjorn. I had all these rosy pictures of sun-filled, sand-filled days.
Unfortunately, things didn't go quite as planned. We began our journey in the aftereffects of Hurricane Ernesto and an equally ferocious migraine for me. Once we got to the beach, it was raining too hard to do anything, but take shelter at a restaurant for lunch, then huddle in our hotel room. Jamie and Shawn braved a walk along the beach so Clare and I could nap, but the first day was pretty much a bust. I admit that I was very upset and disappointed that evening as we went out into the pouring rain again to get some pizza for dinner. This wasn't the perfect vacation. Where was the sunshine? Where were my two happy kids? (And, for that matter, where was their smiling mommy?) In its place, we were handed a soggy day, a grumpy, headache-ridden mommy, and two whiney, hard-to-please kiddos. Luckily, Shawn is there for when the bad moments come. After the kids went down that night, we sat on the balcony and talked about why we were disappointed. Instead of just whining and complaining ourselves, we decided to make the best of whatever got handed to us on this vacation. After all, we were together as a family in a gorgeous place. There was no laundry, no cooking, no telephone, no computer, none of the distractions of our everyday life. The next morning dawned (quite early to us, thanks to Clare, who was up before the sun). When the sun began to rise, I caught glimpses of color in the sky - yellows, blues, and pinks that promised a beautiful day. And it was. It was cooler than I would have hoped and we still had two whiney kids at times (and I admit, an occasional grumpy mommy), but once I changed my expectations of what this vacation was about, things started looking up.
Upon coming home, I thought a lot about my expectations of things. That is what made me so blue on this vacation - it just didn't live up to my expectations. I thought this year would be a mirror of last year. And it wasn't. Which isn't a bad thing because our vacation was wonderful in its own way. We really did have a great time. The cooler weather forced us to do things other than just sit on our bums at the beach. We went on a real Maine lobster boat and watched a real Maine lobsterman pull his traps. Jamie kicked our butts at mini-golf (courtesy of Shawn's bunny ears). Jamie and Shawn rode an elephant (yup, you read that right). We went crab-hunting, starfish-hunting, sand dollar-hunting, and seashell-hunting. We watched them make taffy at a candy store, then let Jamie have carte blanche in choosing what he wanted. Clare got the biggest lollipop she had ever seen. We saw the turbulent ocean during a torrential downpour (from the warmth of an enclosed restaurant patio). At low tide, we explored the area around our hotel and found the greatest swimming holes for Jamie and Clare - pools of water that are left on the sand after high tide, which the sun warms up all day. I could never have imagined all these different things we were able to do. If our vacation had turned out the way I expected, we would have missed so much. It's an important lesson to learn, especially concerning Clare (see, you knew I would get back to her somehow!). I have to let go of so many of my expectations of how I think her life should be. Expectations are not necessarily bad. I also don't think I am shortchanging her by not having those same expectations. But I can't let myself get upset or angered or blue when things don't go as I expected. Or, quite frankly, I would be living my life in misery! Very little in Clare's life has gone as I would have expected.
In retrospect, I think part of the magic of last year's vacation was due to the fact that it was a hard summer for us. At the end of the summer, we were still reeling from the shock of Clare's diagnoses, had recently endured her first cath, and had just received another shock that Clare was not doing so well and needed her second cath sooner than expected. That cath was days after our beach vacation. So our trip was a haven for us. A little slice away from reality. My positive spin on this whole thing is that, in some ways, it was good that our vacation wasn't all I dreamed it would be. It means our life is pretty darn good right now! We have our good days and our bad days, but our life is not the emotional roller coaster it was last year. And I am thankful for that.