I was never one to get excited about going to the beach. I didn’t learn to swim until I was 17 years old and water was something I was always nervous around, even fearful. When I received an invitation to a pool party? I passed. Swim in a lake or the ocean? No thanks.
Just my luck- I have three kids who LOVE everything about the beach, minus the sunburns. They can spend hours building sandcastles that the tide will raze in only seconds. They can sweep the sand off their food and eat their sandwiches with water wrinkled fingers. They challenge the waves that will eventually win and push them down. The ocean spray cools them off, inviting them back.
“Come on Mom,” the kids shout, begging me to join in their fun. I am content to dig my toes in the dry sand and just watch them, yet they don’t want a bystander. I look out at the ocean and then at my book laying on my blanket under the rainbow colored umbrella. The “what-ifs” in my mind push forward. What if there is a jellyfish lurking in the water? What if the lifeguard thinks I’m drowning (and I’m swimming) and jumps in to save me? I will be mortified. What if I swallow salt water? What if I can’t swim once I am beyond waist deep in the water?
I look at the water’s edge and smile nervously at the kids who are waiting for me. I make my way slowly through the hot sand that has begun to stick to my feet. I reach the shore and hesitate as the water licks my toes. The water feels like melting ice and I step back. “I can do this,” I try to convince myself. A few more inches forward and my ankles are submerged. I envy the people around me who have charged into the water at full speed without a sword or shield. What’s the rush? Where’s the fire? Now I am motivated to move a little faster, and the water reaches my thighs. I suck in my breath and lunge forward. I won’t completely give myself to the ocean as I keep my head above water. This is as far as I can go without panicking. The rocking of the water calms me down and I am able to relax.
Maybe next time, I can dunk my head for a second and see what that feels like. Maybe. I know there will be a next time as it won’t be a complete summer without a day trip to the beach. I think I enjoy just being a spectator. The kids enjoy the challenge of bringing their mom who is truly a fish out of water for a day at the beach. Who doesn’t like sunbathing, prefers flip-flops over bare feet, and likes the smell of suntan lotion all by itself?
I am still not a convert to the beach scene, but at least it gets a little easier each time I go. None of the what-ifs in my head have come to fruition on any of these trips. I try to think of the positives such as enjoying the salty breeze, a good book to read, and a picnic lunch. The possibility of seeing a dolphin or two playing off on the horizon would finish off the day. I won’t know if I will enjoy it unless I try, right?