I’m sitting on the beach, alone in a crowd. I can hear the sound of the waves rushing to the shore. Such a beautiful sound. Full of life and movement, a roar. And yet so calming, peaceful even. It covers the sound of people talking and children playing. A backdrop of sound that somehow puts everything else into perspective.
I’m reaching for the calm. It’s there. I can feel it. I can almost touch it. But at the moment it is staying just out of my reach.
I’m trying to push the sadness away, keep it at bay. But just like the waves on the shore, it keeps on pushing in. I think it’s receded only for it to rush in on me once more.
I tell myself that even if I was well, somebody has to stay with our things. I look around and everywhere, one parent sits by the bags, guarding the valuables and the perfectly chosen spot, while the other takes the children off to paddle and explore. I tell myself that I’m no different. But I am. Because I have to stay here, I can’t go with my girls to fatham rock pools and fight off sea monsters. I won’t be able to make it down to the sea to see them surprised by the cold and running from the waves. I will miss it all.
I tell myself that every other parent on sentry duty is thanking their lucky stars that they are having 5 minutes peace from the constant demands and tantrums of a young family. I tell myself that within minutes of getting back the girls will be arguing over who threw sand in whose eyes first, and having a tantrum about my failure to bring the correct snacks. And I’ll wish they’d stayed away longer, wondering why I didn’t make the most of it while they were gone. It’s what every parent wants isn’t it? A few minutes or a morning to yourself.
Am I just choosing to be miserable instead of seeing the bright side of things. Maybe I am, but it hurts to miss out on these moments. It hurts to know that I can’t take my turn in taking them off, either to be part of their adventures, or to give my husband that 5 minutes peace all parents of young children dream of.
If you could see me now, I’d look like any other parent on the beach, left to guard the valuables and make the most of a little break. But inside I am living through just another small loss. Another missing out. Another heartache. Too small really to even mention. Too small to be seen by anyone else. But big to me.
These small losses add up. I feel the dull ache of them in my heart daily. I try and swallow them down. Ignore them. Rationalise them. But they hurt. And with each small loss the ache grows.
So I’m reaching for the calm of the rushing waves and remembering that that calm is in fact a roaring, crashing chaos. Beautiful and awesome in it’s power. It is life and it is death.
There can be calm in the chaos and peace in the pain. It doesn’t stop it hurting, the ache remains. It grows and swells and crashes in and recedes. And my children are back, with tears about the cold and tales of sea snails and limpits, and hungry bellies clamouring to be filled. And my husband is here with his heart full of precious memories. And I’m glad. I’m glad for the peace and for the noise. For the ache and the joy. And I’m glad that I reached for the calm and embraced the sharpness of the pain today, that is now an ache. Receding for now.