For me, there are few things as wonderful and amazing as a tidal pool. When the fierce waters of the sea withdraw themselves from the beach, the leave these shimmering pools of water that are full of life and open to exploration. With each cycle, they change shape and form and new magic emerges from them. For me, tidal pools are vacation.
As I mention before, we have taken our vacations in North Wildwood, NJ. Before that, we went to Wildwood Crest for long weekends. And these vacations just might be the most important thing for our little family from year to year. With both of us working and the boys in school/daycare, our time with them is, to a certain extent, limited. These vacations give us a chance to be together for a much longer period of time then we are use to and it allows us all to learn a little more about each other. I know that must sound weird, but at home, there are so many other things going on like work and it’s residual stresses, yard work, chores, bills, school, daycare and so on. Being able to spend time together in a virtual vacuum where we can just be with each other and not be distracted with everything else going on is absolutely priceless.
With each year, our vacations seem to bring out new milestones with the boys. We have seen developments as important as speech and walking to the more mundane like eating a certain food or swimming without water wings. Now, I am not saying that we went on vacation and one of our boys got up and started to walk. It’s been more like seeing them take more confident steps or working through words a little more clearly. In some cases, and it is sad to say, they may have already been doing these things, but vacation slow things down enough for us to take notice.
Like other things in our lives, the beaches of Wildwood are marking time for us. We can’t walk around here without noticing the area where Ben crawled at full charge into a wave with a huge smile on his face at 10 months old. Or the spot where Matthew splashed and played in a small hole I dug for hours when he was just over a year old. There is the pool six blocks away where they both let go of us for the first time and the spot two blocks away from there where they both insisted they were done trying to ride bikes and made Andrea and I carry them home (they can’t all be happy time markers).
I can’t help but wonder what the future holds and the memories to come here at the beach. I imagine the day when the two of them go fishing together or wander off to the boardwalk on their own. I dream about the day I get to sit with them on a balcony looking at the sea and share a beer with them. Of course, I don’t want to rush things, but these are the things that I am allowed to think of while on vacation.
It is amazing to think about how these two have developed in the years since we started coming here. Even just thinking about what we pack for a trip like this is a bittersweet thought. Portable cribs and diapers got replaced by bicycles and ice cream makers. As I was writing this, Andrea pointed out how our vacations have become less the two of us and the two children we produced and more about four individuals living together in the best sense possible. We talk together and laugh. We share jokes and discuss the days plans. And it is such a truly wonderful thing.
As I mentioned in my first post this week, I decided to start writing this blog while on vacation last year…I wanted to be able to capture these moments and not let them go. I don’t want to lose them, because they are fleeting like the tidal pools. The ocean batters the shore for hours a day before it finally pulls back and allows tidal pools to form. These tidal pools are born from, yet exist in stark contrast to the raging ocean that is sometimes, mere feet away. They are calm, peaceful and so full of life. They are there for exploring and playing. In them there is a reflection of life. From day to day and year to year, they are always different as the ocean shift and rearrange the sands. They are beautiful in both their complexity and simplicity. They are a great metaphor for our vacations.