I saw you on the beach last week. I know you saw me. A couple of times we uncomfortably locked eyes. Both of us found ourselves lucky enough to be enjoying spring break on a sandy, white Florida beach. Yet both of us were worlds apart… or so it may seem.
I am here to tell you – actually to warn you – we really aren’t that far off.
You see, I was you just 20 or so lightning-fast years ago. I too, had that skimpy white bikini and long, dark hair that stuck to my sun-kissed back after I emerged from the ocean. My thighs barely touched, and I had boobs – pre-breastfeeding, non-fake ones that only exist in some unicorn fantasy world. I laughed, goofed off with my girlfriends, played beach volleyball and flirted with boys. I remember sleeping in after nights at the bars dressed in my cute skirt, tank top and my Steve Maddens. Legend has it that I met my husband dancing atop a Key West bar during spring break ’98. I don’t think you were even born yet, were you?
My mind wanders there, when I see you up to the same shenanigans I was up to all those years ago. I remember having a cute boy slather me up with sunscreen – absolutely no inhibitions – turning our stereos up loud and falling asleep in the sun. Now, the only slathering going on is the Vaseline I’m trying to get between my thighs so the sand doesn’t rip them up when I chase after the kids down the beach. The only boy whose attention I’m trying to get is 10 years old and flying a kite – and I’m wondering when he’ll start noticing girls like you here on the beach.
I know you only see a cumbersome mom of four, pushing this beach cart with a mountain load of sand toys, umbrellas, towels, pool noodles and a tired attitude, but I wasn’t always ‘her.’ It’s cliche to say, I know, but it really was just yesterday that I was you. Some mothers wear the “mom badge” with pride – the belly, the stretch marks, the C-section scar – she will say she’s earned all that. I agree, we did, and I wouldn’t trade my kids for anything. BUT, I can’t say that I wouldn’t trade just one day to go back and be in your sandals again.
I’d definitely trade in the cottage cheese on my thighs and the muffin top around my middle for a chance to slip into one of those insufficient-looking bikinis and frolic around the beach one more time. What I wouldn’t give for a chance to eat five cheeseburgers and seven pina coladas for lunch by the pool, not gain an ounce, go for a 5-mile run and still have enough energy to don stilettos later and go party until 2 a.m.
Yes, there will come a day, my friend, when you’ll eat half a cheeseburger and most likely look like Jabba the Hutt sitting atop a pile of laundry, while yelling at your kids. You’ll be on this beach adorned in a flower-print tankini and sarong, a giant blow-up alligator float under your arm, dragging a little person behind you (who is asking you to hold yet another shell). You’ll spend the morning wrangling up kids who scream in defiance at sunscreen applications. Your lunch will probably be a half-eaten ham sandwich that has sand in it.
You’ll try and sit on a lounge chair only to get up every two seconds to take someone into the ocean to pee. You will be smart enough not to bring a book to the beach, because, you know, the thought of you reading a book with kids here would be comical. You may even see a young spring breaker, who will remind you of yourself not too many years ago. Just tell yourself how lucky you are to have had all that fun. You might be in a different state of “fun” right now, but at least you get to drink pina coladas legally and fly kites.
And don’t worry, she’s going to get hers too, someday… sooner than she knows.
My blog post was originally published here at Cincinnati Moms Blog.