Growing up on a farm, it is pretty obvious I had zero interaction with the beach or the ocean. Cows and ditches and manure were more in my wheelhouse. My only experience with the ocean was what I saw on TV or in pictures. It looked beautiful, and romantic and perfect. I was going to see it someday, smell the salty air, (whatever that smelled like) swim, and maybe surf. Oh, and I was totally going to look good doing it. How hard could it be?
It took a while to get there, but on our honeymoon, Dan took me to Huntington Beach. He was so excited for me to finally experience what he loved so much. And I was super stoked to finally experience it. He got out of the car and he threw his hands in the air and said, 'Don't you love it!!??" I got out of the car and my first thought was, "Woah.....eeew. What is that smell?" Basically.......it wasn't all exactly what I thought it would be.
Don't get me wrong....the ocean WAS unbelievable. It was magical and beautifully amazing. Better than I could have ever anticipated. I sat and just watched the water crashing on the beach for a really long time. But it scared me. There was power in those waves that caught me by surprise. I didn't want to swim or get near the water anymore because I wasn't sure I would be able to control myself compared to the waves. I didn't want to be some headline on page 18 "Honeymooner dies on Huntington Beach." I had a life to live! And suddenly the idea of sharks seemed a little less laughable. I was also surprised at how small and insignificant I felt compared to it.
And I definitely DIDN"T want to surf, because it was full of so many unknowns. I saw people playing in the water and they looked so comfortable. They made it look so easy. But suddenly being at the edge of something so amazing made me feel unsure and worried.
But eventually Dan convinced me to get in.
It was colder than I expected but surprisingly exhilarating. Eventually I allowed myself to go farther and farther. The waves came in and out and I found it enjoyable even! Maybe it wasn't scary! Sharks? What sharks? Maybe I can do this beach thing! Go me!! Get me a surfboard! This is fun! This is just what I wanted it to be!! ..............
Suddenly, a giant wave came crashing down on my head. I didn't know which way was up. I was thrown around and sideways. My swimsuit went places it wasn't meant to go, seaweed was hitting my body. I had water up my nose, and I couldn't breath. I came up completely disoriented and gasping for air.
I immediately wanted to get out. That was NOT fun. That was NOT magical. THAT was scary. THAT was unexpected. And I hated the feeling of not being in control.
But....Dan made me stay in. He wouldn't let me get out. "You got to stay IN if you are going to figure it out! You won't be stuck under a wave forever!" He reassured me I wouldn't die by shark (which I guess turned out to be valid. I'm still here) and I would not end up being a headline in the paper. (And maybe he was trying to reassure himself he hadn't married an insane person.....)
I recently was thinking about some motherhood issues I have been having lately while I was blow drying my hair, (because all good thoughts come with your head upside down next to a heat source....obviously.) A particular morning had left me feeling frustrated and mad and I was trying to sort out why certain behavior was happening and why I was handling it all so poorly. I felt washed over with this problem and couldn't see a solution. Then I suddenly had a flash of being in that wave that first time. And I figuratively felt just like that. I felt thrown around and sideways, I couldn't breath, I felt disoriented and I didn't know which way was up. I felt not in control.
I have thought about that a lot and how it has so many parallels with my motherhood and even other life experiences.
All my life I saw people being mother's. It looked magical. It looked picturesque. I had a vision of what it was going to be like and how it would happen. I couldn't wait until it was me. I assumed I would be great at it. How hard could it be? But imagining myself as a mother and me BEING a mother are 2 VERY different things.
The power that comes with Motherhood is beautiful and empowering and was surprising. But it is also frightening and overwhelming. It is amazing and can be picturesque. But sometimes it stinks. Especially in the middle of the night. Or in the middle of postpartum darkness. Motherhood has made me feel small and incapable of the task. But has also made me feel empowered and strong and capable. It also makes me realize that I AM NOT REALLY IN CONTROL when you involve other peoples agency. I have wondered if anyone has died from motherhood? Could that be a potential headline? Getting eaten by your children somedays does seem more likely and scarier than a shark attack. (Some days at 5:30, I miiiiight pick shark infested waters over the dinnertime meltdowns......)
Ok, maybe some over dramatization here, but after I got or get the hang of something and as I stepped in, it IS exhilarating. It IS better than I thought. I would finally get the hang of "a thing" Maybe its breastfeeding, a nap schedule, biting, temper tantrums, friend issues, or whatever. And it isn't so bad. Its FUN and rewarding and amazing!!!! Sometimes the small monotony of waves of motherhood are a welcome peaceful and noisy rhythm to my life. It is monotonous, but I find a groove. But then I'm not looking for storms or sharks or big waves because things are just going along ANNNNNND....
WHAM. A wave. Knocks me down. Takes my breath away. My feet get knocked out from underneath of me and I don't know what way is up. Even after further experiences (I am a California girl after all now....ish....;) ) when I am prepared for a wave, and watching for them, I can still get taken down by them. Lately as I have been thinking of those "waves" that have knocked me over. I feel as though I am floundering and drowning and looking like I don't know what I am doing. But I know I have to stay IN if I am going to figure it out. Because the wave won't last forever.
I am flying by the seat of my pants with some of this mom stuff. It is hard. I don't like cleaning my house. Sometimes it does not come naturally to snuggle my kids. Sometimes I don't want to touch my children and on a lot of days by 5:00 I definitely don't want them to touch me. I like to be by myself and eat alone. I like to sleep. ALOT. Kids aren't conducive to that kind of thing. I hate packing or even feeding my kids lunch. (WHY DO WE NEED LUNCH???)
But you know what I DO love? Them. So dang much. And so I do it. All of it. The parts I love and the parts I don't. I do it all for them. Because of them. Because they are worth the struggle. They are worth every tear and worry.
And I know I can do it too. Even on hard days when its hard to see that I can. Because of ALL the women who are figuratively in that ocean with me. Mothers and non mothers. Taking the waves like champs. I feel braver and stronger because I am surrounded by strong women in the waves. Women who have come before, women I know now and the young little girl I am raising. I want her to take her waves with bravery and courage and confidence.
I am grateful for a mother who braved those waves for me. Who regained her footing every time she was knocked down and every time she felt incapable or not strong enough to the task. I am grateful for women in my life who are hit with wave after wave and come up NOT in tears and fear, but with smiles and shouts of exhilaration. With looks of joy and sincerely enjoying the ride.
I am grateful for the waves. For the fear and the joy. For the complexities of motherhood and the trust and growth I get because of it. I am grateful for a mom. Dan's mom. My sisters--biological and not. My friends who feel like sisters. Neighbors. Teachers. Coworkers. A Savior. A Heavenly Father who are ALL in the waves with me.
Happy Mothers Day. To all who are fighting the waves and braving the water--whether they be waves of motherhood, infertility, loss, grief, pain, loneliness, sadness, worry, stress, or hopelessness.
We have all got this, because we got each other and the waves won't last forever.