As a mother there are these moments. These moments of pure, unadulterated happiness that can occur at the most seemingly insignificant times. One second you are watching your child skipping on the beach, the baby laughing while playing ball with her dad, and the next second you are being flooded by a ginormous wave of emotion that pushes you on the verge of tears. This is the life, this is true happiness, this is my purpose, every decision in my life has aligned to create this magical moment. Give me thousands of fevers, tantrums, crowded showers, spilled milk, and sleepless nights for just one of these moments.
It is so challenging to explain the love a mother has for her children because maternal love cannot be limited and tied down by words. On this family adventure I have had so many of these overwhelmingly picture-perfect snapshots that stop me in my tracks and force me to marvel at the beauty of my family. But this sudden wave of awareness can send me gasping for air, leaving me with a foreboding message of how fragile life is, how fleeting these emotions are, and how this moment will inevitably slip out of my grasp and enter into the realm of distant memory. Nostalgia haunts me, can I recall the way Georgi smelled as a newborn, can I hear her broken toddler language, or see her sleeping face suckling on a pacifier, can I feel her wet, chubby-cheeked kisses? No, it is gone, and I wish so badly I could recreate it. I try so hard not to idealize and miss the past, instead to focus my attention on the present and look forward to the future. But when your children are growing at the speed of light, and the clock is racing, all I want to do is bottle up these little girl giggles, these toe kisses, these pure moments of happiness with littles and save them for a day twenty years from now when they are graduating, walking down aisles, and calling me once a week to say hello.
One of these overwhelming, life is wonderful, drowning in bliss moments happened when we decided to venture into the Olympic National Park, stopping for an ocean-side picnic on Ruby Beach. The air was crisp, the weather was pleasant, bald eagles were flying overhead, and the waves were rhythmically crashing. Georgi ventured off to climb some rocks, Margo teethed on a piece of driftwood cave-baby style, Alex set to work on building a fire, and I sat back and observed all while desperately trying to engrain the image into my memory.
Ruby Beach is best known for its sunsets, when the rocks on the beach shine a beautiful red color, hence the name Ruby Beach. Although we did not experience the glowing rock phenomena, there was the most breathtaking sunset.
We sat there roasting turkey dogs and marshmallows over the fire, taking in the awe-inspiring sunset. Little and big nomads alike were completely transfixed by the beauty, the sun disappeared behind the Pacific Ocean and we turned our gaze upwards toward the stars. That night was astronomically significant because we could see mars and venus. I pointed out the Big Dipper and Little Dipper to Georgi (the only constellations I can find). It was a movie- worthy night.
Then the burning embers dwindled and I snapped out of my daze back into reality, we were now immersed in complete darkness. I looked at Papa Nomad and said, "please tell me you brought the headlamp". Nope, no headlamp, no charge in our phones for the nifty phone-flashlight feature. I began the self-loathing speech in my head "how could you be so stupid, of course once the fire went out we would be stranded in the dark!" The other beach-goers had trickled back to their cars long before the disappearance of our light source, but not us, we sat there like dummies drooling over the beautiful sunset. I envisioned the tide coming up at rocket speed, I could see the news article headings "Deadly Sunset Viewing: Family of Four Stranded on Beach : need lesson in moon and sun cycles". The picture flashed in front of me in black and white, all of us huddled together, soaking wet, the baby screaming, firemen bringing us warm blankets.
Okay, so maybe I was being a bit dramatic. It turns out that our eyes adapted pretty well to the darkness. We were able to go slow and retrace our steps using our instincts and senses, rather than our iphone, thank goodness! I told Georgi all about how people used to use the stars for direction because they didn't have iPhones or even maps. We created a game and chose a star to follow to lead us back to the car. Safe and sound, the Washington Papers will have to find another headline for the papers because the Herlockers outwitted the darkness this time!
Georgi will forever tell the story of when we got lost in the dark on the beach. The rock collecting, the picnicking, the climbing will all be side-notes in her memory of that night.
Truthfully, I don't know what my life will be like when I don't have little ones running up to say "look what I can do mama!". Their constant growing, and my continual aging, can be frightening. I want to stay in this moment, mesmerized by their childhood wonder, innocence, and unfaltering love and I fear the unknown of the future. Just as I was mesmerized by the sunset, and panicked when the darkness came. Even though the darkness created a completely different perception of the landscape, it was still unbelievably magical and intimate, and it was an essential part of our journey, our story. I know that one day my kids will be going off in different directions and I'm not sure what type of world that will create for me, but I do know that even though it will be completely different than the one I am living now, it will be a meaningful part of our journey together, equally as wonderful as this one, and maybe even be the greatest part of our story.
That is not going to stop me from holding on to my little girls as tight and as long as possible...