We’re in Florida at my folks’ house, helping them do some much-needed cleaning and repairs. Our girl has been a trooper, bored out of her mind but coping. This trip hits all her sensory buttons: Florida smells different–sounds different–than Virginia. Her Grammy and PawPaw live a different lifestyle than we do. Even the time-zone difference messes with Cami’s equilibrium. I have to say: she is handling all of it beautifully.
Much better than I am.
I don’t enjoy coming back to my home town. I should, being that 1.) the Gulf of Mexico beaches are beautiful, 2.) I’m with my favorite people in the world, and 3.) the weather is just about perfect. It’s just that every time I visit my home town–my parents’ house–I end up losing my equilibrium. I forget who I am and start acting like who I used to be: so concerned with everyone’s opinion of me, changing how I act to meet what I suppose other people’s expectations are, caught in the performance trap of my growing-up years.
My husband promised me this time would be different. He promised that this trip, we would spend time together doing fun things, family vacation things, building-good-memories things. He’s kept that promise so far by surprising me with a romantic dinner and a night alone in a local hotel on the beach. (Thanks, Mom and Dad!) Cami was excited for us to go, even though we went without her. She hugged me about five times before we left. I’m not sure if the hugs were meant to comfort her or me. Maybe both.
The last time we brought Cami to the Gulf beaches was on Christmas Eve in 2008. It was unseasonably warm, but not quite warm enough to swim. The chilly water temperature didn’t prevent Cami from literally rolling in the surf, fully clothed in her winter clothes. Have I mentioned how Cami best experiences life kinesthetically? I suppose that is appropriate for someone with dyspraxia.
Swimming with my girl in the Gulf has taken this trip a long way toward our building good memories. I doubt Cami will forget her first taste of salt water. Her verdict: “Blech! That’s nasty!” The waves’ movement and sound both calm and energize her. For almost two hours yesterday, she met the waves and jumped over them, just like I used to do when I lived here. Full-circle healing–that’s what God’s been up to with us.
I’ve kept my balance this time, as Michael’s wife and Cami’s mommy. I best experience life kinesthetically also, I think. I love how we’re experiencing life together. Cami figured out how to body surf while I looked for shells in the waves. Even though I found some beauties, we both giggled at how the tiny fish faked me out. I’d think I’d see something worth grabbing through the swirling sand and water; yet when I grabbed for it, I’d end up with a face full of salty water and a handful of sand. A few times, I grabbed for treasure only to lose my balance as the waves rolled in. I’m not a big fan of sand in my swimsuit.
It’s great fun, though, making memories with Cami. I can spend many hours of the day thinking I’ll never understand her, I’ll never connect with her, or I don’t know how to help her. Yesterday afternoon didn’t hold many of those thoughts of frustration.
As we waited in the water for the next wave, Cami said, “Mom. Look.”
I turned toward her just in time to see a school of minnows jumping in the waves. The fish looked like a shimmery-silver rainbow, all of them moving in the same direction, flying free of the surf if only momentarily. “Wow!” I was definitely impressed. “In all the times I’ve been swimming in these waters, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that, Cami. That was cool!”
“You’re welcome,” she said, grinning from ear to ear.
I think Jesus is redeeming my home town in my list of favorite places to visit. Seeing it through Cami’s eyes makes all the difference.
Tomorrow, we’re going to the souvenir shops to find some little trinket to commemorate this trip. I’ll be looking for a wind chime with silver fish, I think.
So blessed to be Cami’s mom,