Conditions have been windy on the beach lately.
My fantasy (which is so convincing I keep thinking it’s a plan) is that I’ll find something to do that’s so perfect, i.e. surfing, it will completely eliminate having to be with children who are having temper tantrums, meltdowns, or who are just plain crying. Seven years into it, I keep thinking there’s a way to avoid the hard parts of being a parent. But no. Which is why, today, I was reminded why this blog is called “Surf, Pray, Love.” When I’m not surfing - which right now is all the time - I’m doing a lot of praying.
“Praying”, in this case, means that I’m getting connected to something far larger than myself. I’m calling on that larger thing to envelope and contain me, so that my actions are driven not by the petty concerns of “me” - wanting control, quiet, whatever - but by that far larger, far more compassionate and loving something.
This morning, I thought I was taking Ashton to the beach. But we weren’t getting much farther than our parking spot near the shore of Venice’s Grand Canal. I could surrender to that. “It’s good enough,” I thought, “to be by this algae-filled water. I don’t have to control everything. I can let go”. There were pigeons - then a duck - then two beautiful snowy white egrets (or herons, I can’t always tell which is which). But Ashton kept getting too close to the water and almost falling in. Which wasn’t a good time for me. So I put him in the stroller and walked to the boardwalk. And he screamed…and screamed …and screamed.
My first reaction when confronted by a screaming almost-two-year-old, is to scream right back: either at the toddler or at no one in particular. I did that a lot the first time around. It felt like a natural protective mechanism: not a parenting mechanism, but an urge towards self-defense. A tantrum can be a violent thing, and, coming of age in The Bronx, I learned to protect myself early in life.
But I didn’t scream. I walked back to the car not screaming. When I put Ashton in his seat, he said “It’s naptime.”
I surfed the waves of his intense emotions. With the help of prayer, I’d surfed mine. I’d prayed. I’d found Love.