We had just parked the beach buggy. My sixteen-year old son and fourteen-year old daughter went off to play catch, so I sighed my way into my new beach chair and scanned the horizon. I saw the most adorable couple of older ladies chatting, a few young families, teenage girls already baking in the sun, and these two sand pails.
As I listened to my kids laughing together, I thought of these empty pails. Like my boy and girl, they have been filled and emptied of all kinds of things already. Not sand or water perhaps, but relationships, learning, tears, love, laughter, struggle, and peace. They are vessels, and up until this point it has been my job to fill them as much as I can. In the early days, it was easy. I filled them with mashed sweet potatoes, diluted apple juice, stacks of books, family dance time, songs, and cuddles. As they got older, I filled them with lessons, experiences, sarcastic humor, sensible school lunches, and routine.
These days, it’s hard to find things to fill them with that aren’t already in there. So, I pile on until their pails are overflowing…with nagging, reminders, worry. It’s useless, and I frequently find large chunks of what I’ve added are dumped out like so much sand.
So, I’ve decided I’m not a pail-filler any longer. So, what am I, exactly, as a mother of teenagers? A sailboat on the horizon they can look to when they need something steady? A cooler full of snacks and cold drinks when they need refreshment? A seagull that watches helplessly from above? An umbrella that gives them refuge from the blazing day? A rock that is, day by day, being ground down into something totally different? Hmmm. Maybe I’m all those things and more.
I’m sure I will figure it out. But for today, we still share the same beach, I still hear the sound of their laughter, and I’m thankful for that.