Inspired by this post by Allison on Catholic Sistas, I thought I’d share some of my favorite memories of my mother when I was growing up.
When I was a girl, before my mother worked full-time, I loved spending summer days with her. Unlike a lot of her peers, my mother relished summers because it meant she could spend the entire day with my sister and I. Before the days of having a pool, I remember Mom setting up the sprinkler for us to play in so we’d get some relief from the hot, humid summer days on the Jersey Shore. Occasionally, she would wake us up very early in the morning and drive over to Island Beach State Park, which would close down once they were full. It was our favorite beach to visit. For Mom, I’m sure the idea that a single car fee was a benefit — it meant no running from the beach to pay the parking meter or paying the overpriced rate at the lots for Seaside Heights. For my sister and I, it meant the beach was less crowded, so we had more space to build sandcastles and play in the surf.
Mom would have our lunches packed for us in the cooler: tuna fish and egg salad sandwiches, water, and green seedless grapes were the usual fare. We would spread out the old army blanket in the sand, Mom would lather sunscreen on us, and we’d be off to play.
One of the best parts of the trips to the beach were that my mother would play with us: she’s splash in the surf, teaching us how to get over the waves and out past the little breakers that are were typical of the Jersey Shore, and float around in the ocean with us, telling stories about going to Jones Beach with her family as a girl. We would go back to the beach again, and we’d all sit in the sand, just past the surf, and make piles that we generously called “Sand Castles.” Sometimes, we’d bury our legs in the cool, damp sand and watch the waves come in. Other times, we would stand in the shallow surf, watching the water roll over our feet, seeing whose feet would be buried in the wet sand first.
When it was time to have lunch, Mom would show us how to wash our hands off in the ocean, swirling them around to get all the sand off so we could eat our sandwiches. We’d sit on the (now extremely hot) army blanket, careful to keep our sandy feet off of it, and eat our sandwiches in the sun. After lunch, we’d start all over again, splashing and playing until we were tired of the beach and ready to go home again.
Even when I was older and my parents put up a pool in the backyard, Mom still loved to occasionally take us to the beach for a beach day, even if the sandcastle-building was replaced by book-reading and boy-watching. These days, I don’t go on beach vacations with my parents, but they have been taking their grandchildren every year. Mom loves taking her grandchilren to the beach and doing all the same things as she did with my sister and I. And they have some wonderful memories of summer, just like I do.