Life keeps us busy, and with the endless tasks and responsibilities come an abundance of guilt, disappointment and exhaustion. Its no wonder, then, that we find very little space for enjoyment and connection with those we love the most.
This time of year, the beaches are quiet with mostly locals walking alongside the breaks or enjoying sunset. It’s easy to spot the vacationers, bogged down and still attached to that world of overwhelm. A family of five, husband dragging the entirety of their beach necessities – umbrella, chairs, towels, boards, beach bag, toys and plenty more – lags far behind the rest. The children, all boys, have already made their way into the water as their mother calls for their extraction, they haven’t’ got their sunscreen yet. She hurriedly sprays each one and off they go.
As her husband approaches with the impossibly manageable cargo, she takes a chair from his hand without even a thank you. She sunscreens herself, asking for his help with her back – again, without a thank you – and disappears behind the screen of a phone, oblivious to her husband, her children and to the beauty of what surrounds her. He tiredly unloads and makes his way with a football to play with the kids. They play for ten minutes or so, as laughter couples beautifully with the sound of crashing waves. Mother never looks up. After what I imagine to be as much energy as he could muster, dad retires to the sand without so much as a towel beneath him and falls asleep. The children make their memories and I begin to ponder.
I imagine how tired these parents must be. Tired from the long road they traveled from wherever they came from to be here. Tired from whatever jobs they have back home. Tired from raising three young boys. Tired from the housekeeping and yardkeeping and everything else. I relate to this. Every parent does. We juggle so much, stretch ourselves far too thin, survive on coffee and spend most days feeling like it’s never enough.
But here, on this island, is respite from all the ways of the world. Here and now is an opportunity, however brief, to be present and to merely enjoy the people we are privileged enough to call family. If we cannot access it here, what hope do we have of ever really living life? We can though, if we pause and choose it.
This woman I watch could have recognized that her husband was just as tired and helped him carry the load down to the water, or at least acknowledged him for his strength and dedication to his family. Perhaps if she did, he would offer her some praise or moment of emotional connection, something she’s been desperately trying to substitute with social media scrolling. Perhaps if they showed one another love, affection, gratitude – they may enjoy this time away from the life that’s left them empty and resentful and return with a renewed sense of wonder. Instead, they remain quiet and distant, as if they are alone on two different islands.
I say a silent prayer, hoping that they find the rest and the joy and the treasure in their time here and that they find a way to take a bit of that back to wherever home is. I remind myself how important it is to take time to fill my own cup, to be present with my child and not miss the fleeting moments of his laughter, and to cherish my husband for all that he does for our family.