Yesterday we drove across the bay to the flatness of the Eastern Shore to load up our friends Maggie and Pat's boat with kids and coolers. Although Arlo had a rough start (who doesn't hate life jackets?), after the boat got moving, he forgot all about his personal floatation device and seemed to enjoy the wind and the wake.
I think that my favorite part of boating is the time when the boat is zipping across the water, and the engine is roaring so loudly that you can't talk, so you get to sink into your thoughts. And I imagined what it would be like to live in one of the houses along the Chester River, imagined what it would be like to spend my weekends anchoring just offshore from the little beaches that dot the water's edge. Imagined knowing all the names of the other boaters who jump into the shallows to drink their beers in hip deep water. There are so many ways to live a life, and Maggie and Pat have picked a good one for themselves and for their son.
I know that my primary job as a mother is not to make their childhood fun or "magical." I have far more important things I should be doing and instilling and training, but the efforts I do put forward, are never for naught. Those days that I give my children, the ones that involve hours of miles so we can do something new and wonderful, they don't just benefit my children.
I loved watching Arlo get his sea legs and then sleep nestled into an inner tube piled with towels. And I loved watching my clumsy, good natured daughter pull herself back on the boat, over and over again, as awkwardly and gracelessly as her mother-- her mother who had the good sense to jump off the boat, once, and only once, so as to avoid the shameless debacle of hauling herself back in the boat sans a ladder or any upper body strength to speak of. I loved watching Gus and Charlie dress up for no reason at all, as Pat grilled brats and burgers. And I loved eating a quintessential summer meal with friends before packing my kids back up and having them fall asleep minutes after leaving.