Gift from the Sea…

I never read a book that was an anthem for motherhood until I read Gift of the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Her husband was the decorated aviator pioneer, Charles Lindbergh. She was a graduate of Smith College, and she raised six children. Anne is a controversial historical figure and a book about her life would be fascinating. This book is an ode to motherhood, it’s triumphs and trials. Anne loved her annual get-away to the sea, and used it as a time to write and recharge.

“I find there is a quality to being alone that is incredibly precious. Life rushes back into the void, richer, more vivid, fuller than before.”

Thanks for the idea, Anne.

Two years ago I decided I would take an annual trip by myself. It has been all the things Anne describes, but I knew this year would be a little different.

Studies have taken a toll.

I try to get all of my work done by the weekend and take a nice two day break to recharge, reconnect with my family, clean the paths of clutter that have collected in my room, and generally pretend I’m care-free.

Sadly with my class load I’ve been running into Saturdays where I am still working through assignments all day.

Two weeks ago I worked through Saturday and my son was gone to Prom, my husband was on shift at the fire department and my daughters were out with friends. I turned in my last assignment at 6 pm and cried.

Tears are old friends. There’s a feeling I get when I cross a literal finish line of a literal race. It’s elation, relief, and pride all rolled up in a nice package that includes salty tears streaming down my face.

“That was really hard…” I said to the walls of my living room, “but I did it!”

This weekend I had my annual “Me” trip scheduled and looming.

There is something really magical about having an agenda for one. I eat, sleep, run, walk, shop, all when I want too. After 23 years of marriage and 22 years of motherhood, I can’t describe how delightful the feeling of being untethered is.

With all this in mind I tried my very best to get my homework done early this week. It would not do to spend my untethered weekend tethered to my computer.

Le sigh.

You know what’s coming. I found myself heading to the coast with so much left to do, including a proctored Math test that I was terrified of. There were so many little bumps along the way. I had a photoshoot to squeeze in for my Content Creation class, I had two other photography assignments yet to be finished. My math test was glaring at me and those darn pre-tests in Excel were taunting me. Maps took me a weird and unfamiliar way across the pass to the coast and I found myself on sketchy roads with polite signs that said “slide” to warn me that the ground was crumbling beneath my vehicle. By the time I found my Shangri-la it was dark and moody out. The sky was the color of my soul. All hope of a relaxing weekend was gone.

My first priority was my Math test. Our professor had warned us not to wait till the last day it was due to take it. “Wifi goes out, things happen. Take your test Friday,” he said. I sat there at my cute little desk and did indeed have technical difficulties. I won’t bore you with the details but during the height of my frustration, the people occupying the unit above me thought 7 pm at night was a good time to re-arrange the furniture. Usually I’m not that person that wants to pull out my broomstick and knock on the ceiling above me, but with my nerves completely frazzled, the vision of ending this “me” vacation with a drive back home to take this stupid test, I was about to explode.

I’ll end the suspense and say I hacked my way through the glitch.

My test went better than well. I can’t tell you how worried I was about conversion units. I was terrified. I spent three different sessions with tutors. They must have helped me because I received a 92%. Thank you Josh, Rachel, and Will for your patience with me. I will never forget you and will probably be back for rounds two and three, possibly four and five as well.

I woke up this morning, the second day of my self-exile, with those Excel pre-tests on my mind. I dreaded them but I wanted them done and no longer taking space in my head.

“How long can it take?” I wondered, reassuring myself.

Six hours.

That’s how long it took.

About three hours each pre-test.

All the while I could hear the ocean outside. It was calling me like an old friend.

I felt nauseous with the need to get out, but time was not my friend today. I had deadlines and the ocean would have to wait.

I did get them done just in time for a headache to kick in but with ibuprofen, and caffeine flowing through my veins I drove to the beautiful Ecola State Park.

The PNW is green all year round. I love it here so much.

This was my payoff for the un-fun tasks I had to do this weekend.

I ran a very intense 42 minutes but it was glorious. I came to my home for the weekend and figured out my last two photography assignments, hit submit, and felt the bliss of finishing another week.

This weekend was not the picture perfect escape I had planned, but these days I’ll take what I can get. As I write this I am watching all the shows my family doesn’t enjoy. I’m spread out on the couch with no one fighting for space. My belly is full of pasta I made for just me. I will soak up the last hours of this time until I drift off into sleep by myself. I will wake up and walk on the beach, I’ll find a bakery and stock up on goods to bribe my kids with. I will drive back through the beautiful misty mountains of the Tillamook Forest.

I wonder if my family has had time to miss me. Perhaps next year’s foray to the coast will need to be longer?

Monday morning comes all too soon and it all starts again. I will join the ranks of all the mothers as we try to balance parenting with pursuing our dreams. I can only approach it with patience.

Anne says it best in the book when she says;

” The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasure shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach-waiting for a gift from the sea.”


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