Soon after I made the decision to be a single parent, I decided I needed to fill the manly void in my teenage boy’s life. In my infinite parenting wisdom, I figured they needed some adventure. I thought they would need some male bonding doing manly things.” Yea”, I thought, “that will fix everything.” So I called my kayaking friend and planned a primitive camping and kayaking trip. Just one small problem, I am not a man, and neither were my sons then. It seemed like a good idea at the time. What I didn’t plan for was how much work is involved in kayaking. When those things are loaded with all your provisions for camping they weigh a ton. And some how they just get heavier with each step of the 1/2 mile trek to the waters edge. I could see the look in my son’s eyes…”Mom, I hate you! I could be at home pwning some noobs on Call of Duty” Ahh, such sweet family times! We managed to get the 2 ton kayaks in the water and began our adventure kayaking 8 miles into the wind. Small swells were crashing on the front of my kayak, and I can assure you it was not due to speed. I am pretty sure at this point Carter was plotting my murder. (and based on the amount of CSI he watches, he would have gotten away with it too.) I am not sure what I was trying to accomplish by dragging them on this trip. I guess I thought I could fix our fractured family by getting away together without video games and TV. Maybe we would sit around the campfire and sing Kumbaya and that would make everything alright. I thought I could save them years of therapy by pitching a tent in a non inhabited place with just their mom. Seeing that in black and white, I now realize I have probably caused them the very thing I was trying to avoid. Once the millions of mosquitoes descended upon us, I knew we were all thinking the same thing…”So, this is what hell will be like!” I am exaggerating for effect of course; except for the part when carter was plotting my murder. As the saying goes, he was not a happy camper. Until he stepped on the beach. In an effort to escape the mosquitoes, we hiked to the beach. What we found was the most magical night of our lives. Carter kicked the sand (he was probably envisioning my head) and literally the sand lit up with thousands of tiny, florescent green lights. It looked like the sky had flipped upside down; a galaxy in the sand. We kicked the sand and watched in amazement as it lit up. We jumped simultaneously to see how intense we could make the light. It never got old. We were out there for hours, jumping and laughing in amazement. We were the only ones on that beach; and to share that moment with my boys was a priceless gift. After experiencing years of hurt and disappointment, wonder and amazement were two very welcome emotions for all of us.
I was reminded of that trip the other night and I realized there is a lesson I haven’t quite learned yet. I am identifying a little too much with Carter on this life adventure. I’m wallowing in all the unpleasant things of the trip and forgetting that if I keep paddling, keep working hard, keep fighting, I will eventually get to the magical beach. I don’t know what that beach is, but I know I am not there yet. I don’t want to miss it either. As with anything in life, the reward only comes after the hard work. So, I am going to keep paddling, keep swatting the mosquitoes (who shall remain nameless), and keep moving forward.