Doing hard things – part three, in Mexico


(Connectivity is a struggle here so I apologize in advance for the visual quality of this post). 

We arrived in Mexico on Saturday. Comfortable fitting goggles, three different bathing suits and a new found sense of anticipation about water were securely stowed in my spirit and suitcase. 
And in a way, I have packed you too. Truly, your support has meant so much. I hesitated for a short while about even blogging about my fear of water but now I’m happy did. Though you, dear readers may be avid swimmers, I sense you understand because likewise you have a hard thing you have mastered or need to look beyond, so as we say in Mexico, muchos gracias, amigos. 🙂

This morning my orange hair, freckle face OS announced that he wanted to go snorkeling. We are staying in an all-inclusive resort so without the concern of money, it was an easy decision. Yes!

The Hubs and I strolled to the beach to meet the OS. As picturesque as the view is (and it’s magnificent), the loveliest sight for us as parents is seeing our three bairn together. At 21, 16 and 14 years old, their lives are busier and more diverse. We see our time with them like grains of sand flowing from our hands but I don’t want to cry so let’s not go there. The OS had ventured to an outlying reef and were bobbing their heads in and out of the water dazzled by the creatures.

Aaron met us back on the beach and urged us to join them. “Mama, you’re going to love this!” he exclaimed.

In a moment, I found myself in the water. This is a new Cindy. I’ve been to beaches in several countries throughout my lifetime and never has a body of water beckoned me as the Atlantic Ocean at the Playa del Carmen has done.

Instead of looking for excuses as to why I couldn’t snorkel or get into the ocean, I believed I actually could. My middle OS told me to look underwater and without hesitation, I did as instructed. The view did not disappoint. Schools of yellow and black striped fish glistened past us. Small black fish darted in the reefs. With another gulp of air, I witnessed a larger fish that truly was painted by the hands of God, this one aquamarine with other hues of blue in its body. I was not marooned by fear or shipwrecked by sadness any longer. I rode a wave of gratefulness the entire day. 

It no longer concerns me how many times I have put my head underwater. It’s not natural quite yet but I’m moving forward and not counting or dreading it. At one point during our snorkeling adventure, it was as if the fish were approaching me saying, “Hey girl, what-choo doing here? Looong time, no see! It’s great to see you!” The Mexican fish are friendly like that!

Yes, I tasted a fair amount of ocean water. I got a bit scared and hoped a shark wouldn’t come and ruin the whole thing. And I admit to being VERY clumsy on the reef and narrowly avoiding an ankle injury plus I appear to be melanin deprived. But…

I belong. With my family. In the water. Making memories. Splashing and beholding. Cherishing and treasuring.

Earth, wind and fire

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I don’t want to deceive anyone and make you think that we are just one big happy family all the time. We fuss and argue, we agitate and frustrate. Try as we might, there are times, far too often, when we even get disappointed in one another and yell. Even on vacation. Apparently I have a certain look, my children know too well where my jaw tightens, my eyes bulge out, it’s quite lovely I’m told. Luckily there are no pictures which have captured such a moment. If there are, I will delete such photos immediately. You will only see this look in person, never on film!

To prove my point, I wanted to share a very W-H moment we had during our trip to the coast. It was a cool summer night on Carolina Beach. There is a long stretch of beach at Carolina Beach where you can camp or make fires. Put this on your list of things to do before you die. It’s really awesome. And it might just be a guy thing but my men like to burn things. So on this crisp July night, Nate, Aaron and Isaac create a mighty bonfire and the hubs and I join them. We gather around the aluminum fire pit that was placed in a hole dug in the sand. (Remember this part).

Ike grabs a reed he had pulled from the sandbar and fashions a skewer for marshmallows. Quite resourceful. Apparently Isaac unwittingly adds extra fiber to the marshmallow which I note upon biting into my gritty summer treat. Then Nathan adds additional sand in my mouth when he kicks up his heels walking past me, not on purpose but whatev. (This might have been a eye-bulging moment.) Thanks, Soldier/Son!

The hubs and I depart and the boys continue their time by the roaring fire. (Remember this part.)

Legend goes that the boys were putting out the fire on the beach, ready to retire for the evening. It’s around 11pm and Aaron says smugly, “I’m just gonna enjoy the hot sand while you guys work.”Aaron holds the flashlight while Nate and Ike pick things up.

It is about this time that Isaac pours sand over his brother’s foot. The sand near the fire was warm and good but the sand Ike dumped on Aaron’s foot had been directly on the coals. It was poker-hot. In Aaron’s vernacular, “insanely hot.” Ike wasn’t trying to hurt his brother but indeed he did, giving him a second degree burn on the top of his foot! While the hubs and I are chilling in the condo, Aaron is screaming on the beach, Nate is getting angry both at Isaac for doing it and Aaron for shrieking, and our 12 year-old, orange-haired, freckle-face Ike is numb. A precious moment? Hardly.

In the middle of the night, Aaron had trouble sleeping because of the pain. We helped him the best we could and in the morning, it was feeling somewhat better. If you ask nicely, Aaron will show you the singed foot hair.

Thankfully, though we were laughing about it by the evening. Aaron might have another scar to add to his collection. Ask him about the scar he obtained while running into a urinal, or hopping up a brick step to our house. He’s quite the conversation piece.

When all is said and done though, it is well with my soul. I still have three OS who when together, still say “I love you” to each other before bedtime. This includes if they are on the phone with friends. How many teenage boys do you know who interrupt a conversation with a buddy just to shout, “I love you” to their annoying kid brother? Yes, I am blessed beyond measure.

Woefully imperfect, etched memories are sometimes burned into our lives forever, pun intended. (This is a picture of our family on a ferry to Southport, days before the charming burning incident.)

I’d love to hear your vacation stories! Got a scar story? Tell me!