The Lashley family has just returned from its annual trip to the beach. This is something that I start dreaming about around February, when...

The Lashley family has just returned from its annual trip to the beach. This is something that I start dreaming about around February, when we are right smack in the winter doldrums. I dream about the small little beach town that we think of as our second home. The quiet streets, the pier, the small little shops in the little town square; there is not much to the place, but it is beautiful, and peaceful, and we start yearning for it each winter.

My aunt grew up in this little beach community, just south of Wilmington, N.C. Being able to stay each year in her family home has been a wonderful opportunity for us, and we have come to love it as our own. This year we arrived early in the morning, having left the day before to stop in to see my Dad and Papa in Emerald Isle. I grew up going there each summer for weeks at a time, but I will tell you that now that it’s been discovered, it’s too crowded for me. We made our way down Highway 17, meandering through all of my family’s old stomping grounds: Jacksonville (Camp Lejeune, where my maternal grandparents were married), Jacksonville High School; where my parents both went to school, down past Holly Ridge and the turn off to Topsail (another one of our favorite places); Surf City; and on towards Wilmington. Once we passed through Wilmington, waving at the UNCW campus (my mother’s alma mater), we made it down to our little beach heaven.
It was a great first day. I was able to shop for groceries, get settled in the house, and be on the beach just after lunch time; my kind of day. The next morning we woke up, and grabbed some donuts from the local Wake N Bake Donuts shop (heaven, I tell you) for Father’s Day, we had our swimsuits on and lunch packed before 10 a.m. I love to get on the beach early. After an hour or so of beach bliss, my darling rising middle schooler started to complain. He was sticky, the sand was on him (oh Lord, you’re at the beach, for crying out loud) and he was ready to go. I tried doing what seems to work best for us when he begins to complain, I ignored him. After another 30 minutes of eye rolling and hefty sighing, I could contain myself no longer. “Seriously, it’s Father’s Day, could you choose to be totally adolescent tomorrow,” I asked not-so-gently. My hand was seriously itching to slap him, but I was trying to keep the peace and again, it was a day to celebrate his wonderful daddy.

I finally decided that we were going to have a nice time, so I walked the angst-ridden, sand-hating child back to the beach house and left him there with the dog and the door locked. It is so wonderful having older children. Back to the beach I went, only to have my precious flower fuming over her playmate being gone and now she was whiny as all get out. Lord, do you have no mercy on mothers trying to relax at the beach?

The next day was much better and my hopes were raised again, I should always know that trouble is right around the corner the minute I start enjoying myself. The water was perfect, and the boy and his daddy were enjoying being in it. The flower, who is fast turning into “the girl,” and I made a huge sand fort, and then walked down the beach to find shells to decorate it. It was a beautiful and happy day. However, the next three days poured down rain. We made it to Wilmington to visit their funky shops and have lunch, and we enjoyed that, but you can only take so much rain in a sleepy beach town.

On the third day, we woke up and put swimsuits on. I proceeded to coat everyone with sunscreen. My mission was to get us down to the beach no matter how cloudy it was. We were getting ready to leave when the bottom fell out. I threw up my hands. Done! The kids played in the street and driveway in the rain and puddles for a bit, and then I went inside to begin packing up our stuff. We ended up leaving a day early.

The rain and the whiny children did me in; I just wanted to come home where I could go to the pool and enjoy worshipping the sun while my children happily played for hours without complaining of sticky skin and sand. I wanted to be home where I could send them to a friend’s house or have one over here to occupy these little darlings. We are home, and now we are happy and getting into the groove of this summer. Next time, I may just escape to the beach with my sweet husband, and leave the kids at home!