I have a vacation tradition that began the year my husband walked out the door. We didn't have much money that year, but we did have a relative who lived half an hour from the beach who offered us a king-sized bed to crash in for a long weekend.
It was an emotional weekend to be sure - the first "vacation" without Daddy.
My son asked for him a few dozen times a day and my heart lacerated with each "he's not coming, honey" that I had to answer him with. We brought along a friend for Anna, and the two of them were having a blast jumping waves while David dug in the sand.
Somewhere around mid-day the first day, it finally occurred to me that we were doing OK. We were really doing OK. We had enough money for pizza and ice cream (no cheese fries, but the kids were OK without them). We were laughing and playing and having fun and making lots of good memories and we were doing it all without my husband.
I stood on the beach, holding my camera and stared down at my toes in the sand as a sense of complete peace washed over me. I had the smell of the ocean, the sound of the waves and my children's laughter, the sun on my face, and my toes in the sand. We were going to be OK. Everything was going to be OK.
I snapped the picture of my toes in the sand, and I printed it up and hung in my cubicle at work, and another copy is propped up on my desk at home. Toes in the sand - it keeps me grounded.
So we got to the beach this last Saturday under rapidly graying skies and just managed to get the car unloaded when the heavens opened up and it poured and poured and poured. The kids kept staring morosely out the window of the small shore house I managed to rent from a very, very generous friend who lowered the rate for me, and it just wouldn't stop! Rain and rain and more rain as the streets flooded and the water reached the wheel wells on my car. Finally, it tapered down to a sprinkle, but the streets were still running like a river.
"Can't we go out, Mom? Please?" The kids begged. I started to balk and then I thought - it's warm out. There's no thunder anymore. The water's only ankle high on the sidewalk and there are people out in the street. What the heck!
We rain out in the light rain, and Anna boogeyboarded the sidewalk as David and I danced and danced and danced, kicking up great splashes of water as we went. It was awesome. And when the last remnants of the storm were completely gone, we headed to the beach and watched the haze on the water and the sun begin to set. The kids dutifully stayed on the shore since the water was still rough, but we built an amazing sand castle and laughted about what a rotten day this was until it became so awesome.
So here's a picture of my toes on the flooded sidewalk - a little reminder to me that sometimes, you should just go out and dance in the rain.