As alluded to in a few of my past posts, I went to Ocean City a few weeks back, mainly to take my youngest to college, but for a little R&R as well. I need to publicly thank my friend Maria for letting our family use her beach house for this trip. Our tip would not have been nearly as comfy cozy and relaxing had we been in a hotel room. The neighborhood was quiet and calm and we were within walking distance to a few shops and restaurants.
Bella and I went down early (btw, Liberty has about 100 nicknames) on a Monday, so traffic was light and we enjoyed the ride with good music and giggles. After getting settled in, we decided to walk on the beach for a bit. We watched the surfers and laughed at the sandpipers, stopping to make bets on which one would beat the others in a race from the waves and even though it was overcast and a little chilly by the water, there was a myriad of pe0ple to see. Soon we realized we had walked from 49th street to 28th street, where the boardwalk begins, so we decided to move up to the boards and see if we could find something to eat for dinner. While scouting we heard a bicycle bell and to our left rode up an older man with a little girl riding in his front basket, tucked into some blankets. The gentleman didn’t have much more than a few wisps of white hair on his head, but he was also sporting a lovely little purple hat, accented by white daisies around the brim. The little girl was laughing the whole time!
As many of you know, I’m allergic to onions, so finding food “out” isn’t always easy. We walked along, debating every restaurant’s possible poisoning probability and finally found ourselves on 11th street, where we ate our meal. Exhausted, we caught the “drunk bus” home.
On Tuesday, I was restless. It was raining and peaceful, but I wanted to make sure my baby did what she wanted to do while we were at the beach. This was the day I bugged her to tell me what she wanted to do and she told me she wanted to rest and just be. Admittedly, I did settle and nap and we cuddled, but by mid afternoon I was ready to go to the grocery store. I had wanted to make lasagna for dinner and since that takes some time, I needed to get the ingredients. Off we went to the store for what we needed and when we got back, she napped some more and I put together dinner. I had pre-made and frozen some cookie dough at home and I started baking up the trademark Zoom Zoom cookies for Libby to share with her roommate come Thursday. Frank, Sr. eventually arrived, and so did Sean. This was a big surprise for Libby; she thought that none of her siblings were going to see her off. Sean and Libby took off to paint the town red and Frank and I had a quiet evening.
Sean and Libby had made the request that we all get up early and go bike riding on the boards and play a round of mini golf. (When my parents had owned a timeshare at the beach, we would take the kids to play mini golf and they still remember and recount those days with Meemaw and Peepaw.) The morning was misty wet and a bit windy. Our surrey bike was dripping wet, but we were there to ride the boards, so we loaded up and took off. Sean wanted to ram everyone or at least frighten them with the thought that we would run into them and Libby (who was driving) just wanted to tool around the entire boardwalk. It was so much fun.
After getting soaked riding bikes, we went to play mini golf. The easy banter amongst the four of us was a soothing balm for me, but when Libby said that she wished her brother (Frank, Jr.) was there and quickly followed that up with a desire for Heather to be there as well, I have to admit I was feeling all aglow and a little sad. I wanted them there too. I guess I channeled this into my golf game, because I ended up winning by 10 strokes! That was UNHEARD of in our mini golf history- we are usually very evenly matched!
Sean had to leave for home and we needed to get some sleep that night because Thursday was the big day. We all went to bed in separate rooms, but around 3 in the morning, my little mouse crawled into bed with me and I slept better than usual.
MOVE IN DAY!! We got up early, and headed out for Salisbury In the grey misty morning. It was already warm and promised to be a humid and uncomfortable day. The town was ready for the 1500 freshman students to descend upon them, with Police at critical intersections, large signs directing traffic and volunteers handing out water bottles from the local churches.
We found our way to her dorm, and parked, thinking we were going to get our exercise by climbing the three floors to her room with her stuff, but instead we were immediately swamped with members from sororities, sporting teams and student government members, all asking where to take Libbyâs things. Sweet! Since we had beaten her roommate to the room, Libby got to pick her side of the room and we set everything up, quickly getting her items in place so there would be enough room for her new roommate, Jenna, to move about while setting up her things. Libby was so nervous and anxious to meet her roommate. She had agonized over how life would be if they didnât mesh well. We waited for Jenna and her family to arrive and helped them bring her things upstairs and then vacated so her mommy could make her bed, just as I had made Libbyâs. Funny how much more comfortable you can be leaving your baby somewhere if you make her bed up for her before you leave.
The rest of the day was a blur of activity with tension over all things new. We got her books, her mailbox, a few items from the campus bookstore, visited the campus coffee shop for an organic cookie and some coffee while waiting for the family picnic and listened as she was welcomed to the school after an official class of 2011 freshman photo. I was sticky and hot and tired and a bit on edge about leaving my baby, and my poor understanding tolerant and supportive husband actually survived my tyranny with his sense of humor intact. The photos speak for themselves. I was mad, he was a Super hero
By the end of the picnic, Libby was already settling in to her new environment, ready for the next part of her life to begin and Frank and I were ready to go back to the beach house and do the same. Hugs and kisses and farewells were given.. and then Frank and I went to a restaurant called The Vineyard in the Pines and had our first empty nester dinner. It was a strange feeling, knowing that everything had changed and yet many things had not. During that meal, complete with live soft jazz and a duck parading in front of the windows to the delight of the patrons, we got at least two phone calls from various children. No complaints here!! I think the worst thing would be to not hear from themâ¦ Iâm happy to have them call.
On Friday, Frank and I spent the day at the beach; me listening to music, he flying his kites. Again, that feeling that things werenât the same came creeping up on us. We enjoyed our day and were surprised later in the evening with the arrival of Frank Jr.! He had come to the beach for a free night and to cruise the boardwalk with Dad in tow for a game of Air Hockey. I stayed home and dozed on the couch, happy to know that Dad and his boy were having fun.
THE COFFEE SHOP
The next morning, Sr., Jr. and I decided to go up to the local bagel shop and get some coffee. We walked to the store in the heat and humidity and waited in line to place our order. Sr. spotted the newspaper so he opted out of the line and sat at a table to take a gander at the headlines.
Jr. and I moved up in line and when it came time to order, Jr. muttered what heâd like to me. I jokingly reached my hand to his chin and moved his mouth and said, âHoney, you just say âIâd like a Honey wheat bagel with butter, please!ââ Amused, the woman behind the counter said, âI have to order all the time for my husband, too.â The implication was not lost on Jr. and he began to sputter indignantly and explain to the salesperson that I was NOT his wife, that I belonged to âthat man over thereâ and that I was his MOTHER. The woman behind the counter looked at me and then looked at Jr. and said, âYou are his MOTHER? REALLY?? Really?â then turned to a coworker while I was vigorously nodding my head and said, âHey, come here and look at her. He says sheâs his mother!! I thought they were husband and wifeâ¦what, did you start having babies at 5??â I told her I was going to be 44 in a few days and she did another double take, informing me that she was only a few years older than me. (She looked a lot older- a lesson here ladies, wear your sunscreen and floppy hatsâ¦ the sun is not kind to your skin at times.) Jr. couldnât stop sputtering and feeling somehow offended and I was beaming. I had just had the best birthday present I could have asked for. I was mistaken as being my 22 year old sonâs wife!!
Jr., Sr., and I made sure we played the prerequisite mini golf game that day and we packed up and said farewell to our beach house, expecting to stop by the auto dealership on our way home to look at the coupe, but Iâve already told that story. The true ending to this one is that I finally know what Iâve been wondering for years. My children are my prize, my joy and the biggest part of my life and I treasure my relationship with each one of them. Iâve been so blessed.