Last week we got to spend five days and nights in Sandestin, Florida, with plenty of daytrips back and forth to Grayton Beach and Seaside, too. There is a chance you guys may be thinking, "Are these assholes always on vacation?" Because there was our Outer Banks trip not so long ago, and I got to escape to California for a business trip recently. But here's the deal--we have just been super blessed this summer with generous friends who have helped make all of our family vacation dreams come true. This go 'round, we went to Florida with our friends Johnny and Tara (and their two sons, ages 4 and 2) and were able to stay in their family's beach house. For the record, I recommend making friends with people whose lineage includes beach houses. It also helps that the dynamic between our kids is pitch perfect at the moment, so we could enjoy lots of adult hangs while our kids played together. Tessa has an epic crush on four-year-old Sawyer, who she has known since birth, and she said all kinds of moony, swoony, nauseating things like, "Mama, don't worry, Sawyer will protect me" and "Sawyer, we are gonna get married when we grow up, right?"
It felt like our first real family vacation because it was long enough for us to get comfortable and settle into the easy rhythm of it, and we had all four of us there. When we went to the Outer Banks we didn't get to take Liv with us. I liked the freedom of being baby-less, but I missed the snot out of her. This trip I really bonded with her. Because I felt lighter, buoyed without the pressures of everyday life, I could just carry her around on my hip as much as I wanted and fully snuggle into her sweetness. I feel very aware right now of her fleeting babyness. It is almost gone, so I am drinking up every last baby drop before she traipses off into full-on toddlerhood. God willing and the creek don't rise, she is my last baby.
It was Livvy's first visit to the ocean. She was not a fan. The waves and the cold water overwhelmed her. Instead she loved the pool. Loved it. We found a baby float for her and could hardly get her to part with it for the whole trip. Tessabean has definitely proven to be a water lover this summer--unlike last summer, when we endured the world's most traumatic swim lessons. She ate the ocean up with a spoon and then went back for more. The pool was equally delightful to her. It's hard to believe that her fingers and toes aren't still wrinkled.
I am a landlocked baby who was born with saltwater and piña colada in her veins, so I am incredibly grateful for having gotten to lay eyes on--and float in--the ocean so much this summer. On Monday, the day we headed home, we weren't in any particular hurry to get on the road for the seven-hour drive back to Nashville. Instead we drove out to Seaside again. Nekos wanted to take photos, and I wanted to take one more dip in the ocean. It was the first time since our vacation had begun that anxiety found me again, a tight knot in my throat. I felt myself getting irritated with the kids and with Nekos, with myself. No one wanted to get in the ocean again except me, so I walked down to the beach myself and stripped off my dress. I waded into the water, layered as far as the eye could see in shades of clear blue, turquoise, and navy. And then I just floated, palms to the sky, hot sun, cool water. All I could hear was my breath, deep and even. The anxiety fell away. I have to keep this feeling with me. I think I will.