One of the most difficult lessons I had to learn after my divorce was to let go. I had to let go of control of my boys, trust in the judgement and abilities of their father when they weren’t with me and I had to let go of the idea that if I missed a special day or holiday with them, it made me a bad mom or it meant I didn’t love them or they didn’t love me or that we weren’t a “real” family. I made it a priority to establish memorable traditions when my oldest son was born and post-divorce, it was a challenge to accept that I may not get to spend every single holiday with them. In time, we began to establish our own traditions; ones that are not necessarily based around the usual Hallmark holidays, but those that we could celebrate together year in and year out and on days that wouldn’t typical require me fighting with their father or a custody agreement. We have birthday morning traditions, first day of school traditions and to get around the “shared” holidays, we do things like making Easter candy mash with all of their leftover Easter candy and making “Rudolph nose” treats and watching the Polar Express every year at Christmas time. Instead of focusing on a specific day, we have come up with alternatives that allow us to be flexible and make the holidays just as special and maybe more so because they are so unique to us.
Each year, on (or around) the first day of Spring, we head to the beach. This is typically a cooler day and almost always our first of the season. We have taken breakfast out for a picnic, stopped by during the afternoon, sprinted out after a long work day in a mad rush to fit it in before dinner/bed time; it doesn’t really matter when or how, but we always find time to make it happen. We first acknowledge how beautiful our beach is, how grateful we are for where we live and for our ability to make it here every year and then we walk the beach, searching for beautiful shells and broken shells and really anything that we find lovely. We meet back at a specified spot and dump all of our treasures into a pile. Then, we write a message on each shell; a wish for the year, a desire, a happy thought, sometimes ridiculous things that make no damn sense to anyone but a three year old boy and then we read each shell out loud as we take turns tossing them back into the ocean. Not only does it help us to raise our vibrations and to welcome in a new season of our lives with gratitude and good intentions, but I like to think that some passerby finds the shell/message that they need as they’re strolling down that beach hours, days or weeks later or that whoever finds the shell with “eat more pizza” scribbled on it will at least get a good laugh out of it randomness. This quick little family bonding activity is something that boys and I all look forward to and it makes my heart smile to see what they come up with each year to write on our shells, from the profound to the hilarious to the completely off the wall. It seems that these small moments, the simplest of traditions are the ones that stick with us and I hope they will always remember the way we created memories even in the most trying of times that will look back lovingly on these moments. I love the way this day always seems to raise our spirits and refocus our energy on what’s important in life… and also reminds us to eat more pizza.