We are back from vacation and I can say, for the very first time since becoming a parent, that it was actually a vacation. It was enjoyable and stress-free and FUN, SO FUN, and it gives me great hope that our Disney trip in December will not be the equivalent of throwing $2,000 into a sewer.
We drove straight through the outskirts of Hurricane Irene just an hour or so after it made landfall in North Carolina. It was windy and rainy and a tree branch blew onto the roof of our car once, which HOLY FREAKING SCARY, but otherwise it was smooth sailing. The kids watched movies and Lucy took a nap and before we knew it we were pulling into the driveway of our rented house and marveling over the ease of travel. I always worry when it's easy to get somewhere; for virtually every trip we've taken with the kids, the travel part is a cinch, and then the anticipation of the trip wears off and we're actually THERE and the resulting adrenaline crash leaves them acting like neanderthals.
BUT NOT THIS TIME. They were charming and lovable and they slept ALL NIGHT LONG, even in a bedroom shared by three kids age four and under. They played happily on the beach all morning and into the afternoon, they were bathed and dressed for dinner each night with very little resistance, and they stayed up a few nights until nearly 10pm with nary a whiny complaint. Of course, they were at an AMUSEMENT PARK FOR CHILDREN for two of those nights, and playing mini-golf for the other, so I'm not sure why they WOULD complain, but those of you who read this blog are probably familiar with the concept of “children,” these bizarre, ridiculous beings who can whine about things like ice cream being too cold.
I wasn't sure what Asher would be like this year – last year he was absolutely TERRIFIED of the ocean and only on our last day did he work up enough courage to venture into surf up to his ankles. He spent the majority of last year's vacation whining about how HOT he was and refusing to let us help him cool off in the water. Much to our amazement, this year, without much fanfare or any discussion, he simply waded in to his waist and spent the whole week jumping waves, riding waves on a boogie board (!!!) and attempting to “surf” in the shallows. After watching him struggle with a fear of getting his face wet during his swimming lessons this summer, we were beyond surprised, and naturally, beaming with pride. Lucy loved the water too – she was a touch more hesitant, but this wasn't due to anything but the fact that she was knocked underwater and rolled by a few rough waves, which I SUPPOSE is possibly our fault, as her parents, for not standing close enough to her to be able to do something about it. She just does everything so EASILY and without issue that it is easy to forget she's only TWO. I'm her MOTHER and I forget.
The hurricane didn't hit the area we were in, but the water was churned up from the storm which meant that we saw more wildlife this week than I have seen at the beach in my 33 years COMBINED. On the first day we found two living starfish, the next day a huge sea snail, and a couple of days later I unearthed what felt like a five-pound scallop in the shallows. Have you ever seen a live scallop? It looks like a big horse tongue in a shell, and is pretty much the most disgusting thing ever. On our last day there were so many fish in the water that when a wave rolled, you could see hundreds of them swimming through the crest, and you could see five or six of them jumping clear out of the water at any given time. It was PURE WILDLIFE INSANITY.
One night we took the kids to a little kiddie amusement park and let them wear themselves out riding planes and ferris wheels and cars and after we'd finished – and I will never forget this moment, I don't think, or the feeling that accompanied it – I remember Lucy and I were walking hand-in-hand in the twilight over to a bench where Dave and Asher were waiting for us, and I simply thought, this is it. This, right here. This is what it feels like to be fulfilled and happy; this is what it feels like to be complete. This, right here, in this moment, is our family. The four of us. I think I can safely say that I feel like this is it. There will be no more babies. I'm not sure why it happened in that moment, but in the following days I kept thinking about how I felt in that little sliver of time, and I realized that it wasn't just a fleeting, happy feeling. If it had been just an emotional reaction to having a wonderful night and a wonderful vacation, I imagine I would have felt in that moment like I should have FIFTY children. But that's not what it was.
It felt – and it still feels - like certainty. I am not sad or wistful; I am not disappointed. I just... I just know. That's not to say that adoption is off the table, but I am ready to be done with the uncertainty of whether or not there will be another biological baby in this family. The answer is no. And with that answer comes the thrilling feeling of contentment, a feeling that replaced the gnawing undercurrent of uncertainty.