From the car window, we both eyed that coast line; a deserted stretch of beach just past the Wisconsin border on the Upper Michigan Peninsula. There was not a soul in sight. The beach stretched on for miles and the sun gleamed off the golden stretch of sand as waves lapped the shore and seagulls flocked and landed. Daryl imagined jumping in the waves like an Orca whale. I imagined a long walk in solitude.
I had been hesitant to take this trip alone with my youngest daughter, who was now twelve and had a mind of her own. She had strong opinions and I was too exhausted most of the time to put my foot down. We often ended up in long arguments about things that made no sense which further exhausted me. It often felt like we were in a vicious cycle with no end in sight. We would be alone together for the entire trip. There would be no escape from the arguments. We would be trapped together in a car.
I was a single parent in the deepest sense of the word. I was single and a parent. The parent part meant that I never had a moment to myself. The single part of that meant that I still had dreams of having a life separate from being a parent. I longed for a little solitude. I wanted time to have a completed thought of my own without Daryl interrupting with her desire for her mother’s attention.
“Daryl, why don’t you just play for awhile and I will go for a bit of a walk. I won’t go far. You can watch me. I’ll just go for a little way and come right back.” She relented and started to make a sand castle while I started my walk up the beach. As I walked I tried to imagine myself free of motherhood and able to just take long walks on the beach. I pictured what I might look like walking alone on the beach with the wind in my hair and a handsome man walking from the other direction. My vision was short lived. Daryl trotted up by my side.
“But Mom, just come in a little; I’ll show you how to play in the waves.” she said with that look of someone certain they knew what they were talking about. There would be no point arguing. Daryl would not let this rest. She danced along by my side in the edge of the water. “Mom, come in just a little; jump like this; feel the waves.”
I stopped and watched Daryl dancing around in the waves. She was so free about life. She found pleasure so easily in the simplest things. I gave in and joined her in the waves. I jumped the way she showed me how to jump. Then it happened. I felt the waves. I mean I felt the waves the way Daryl felt the waves. Daryl just played and looked at me satisfied that I finally saw.