We stepped off the boat and onto the dock. Another item off our Summer Bucket List crossed off. I had FINALLY made it to the lake. All summer, I had hesitated to accept my friends’ many invitations and gentle encouragement to come to the lake. It wasn’t that I did not want to go. The main issue was that I was fearful of all the what-ifs. The what-ifs coaxed on by the unknown and my insecurity about my two-year olds sporadic behavior. Add to that the exhaustion that comes with managing his behavior and bringing him to a new place (especially one located by the water) and the trip seemed like it would be too much for me to handle alone. I had been dying to go to the lake and spend some time my good friends. They are the friends that challenge me to be a better person. We share a love of Jesus, learning new things, homeschooling our children, and when I am with them I always leave feeling more energized than when I first arrived. So, what was my problem? Where was my sense of adventure? Where was my enthusiasm?
I am not sure what made me say “yes” to the latest invitation. Maybe it was the fact that I felt like I was missing out on something. Maybe it was the fact that I was sick of feeling like a wimp. Maybe it was my declaration that my family’s summer was going to be the “Summer of Fun.” I certainly did not want to be a hypocrite to my very own declaration. Regardless, of what it was, I said “yes” and plans was made.
The morning of our “big” lake adventure came and I pushed back my anxiety. I fully committed myself to the possibility of all the fun that was to come. I had tried to go over all the scenarios of what possibly could happen with kids near the water. I had swim vests, extra sets of clothes, sneakers, sandals, towels, sunscreen, snacks, and a book for me to read (How is that for positive thinking?) With the VBS music pumping in the background, the three kids were buckled in and we started out on the road. About two hours and one wrong turn later, we had arrived. Fresh air, beautiful pine trees, a sparkling lake, and happy faces greeted our van.
The fun began seconds after we parked. The lake house is better than a resort. There are cabins and everything you might need to enjoy various activities on the lake and playing in the surrounding pines. You can swim, fish, snorkel, float, go boating, go tubing, sit on the dock, play horseshoes, sit in a hammock, go on a scavenger hunt, run through the pines, view the point, read a book, sit and relax, collect mica, and sit on a tractor. That was my two year olds favorite part. Sit on a tractor by the lake- doesn’t that sounds perfect if you are a two-year old boy? But one of my very favorite parts of the lake was that my daughters had some of their best friends to play with. Within minutes, all the kids went off together and some of the older kids took my son for me. I was able to start to unwind and relax.
As nice as the relaxing was, it wasn’t enough! I had finally made it there and now I was ready to experience it! So when the kids and I had a chance to go on the boat (item off our bucket list) and go in a towable tube (now on the bucket list) – we took it! I hadn’t been in a tube since I was about 15 and that is exactly what age I felt being towed behind the boat. Flying across the lake in the tube, I forgot about all my adult worries and commitments. I gave the thumbs up sign to go faster, I laughed hysterically and let the wind whip through my hair. It felt like pure freedom. I eventually crashed into the water. Some of my anxiety and need for control crashed off me as well. I emerged a lighter, more fun version of me.
Since I was already wet and my son was occupied, I thought why not swim and float in the lake with my friends. Normally, I am the one on the shore/side of the pool as the towel-keeper whose main job is helping my kids out of the water and wrapping towels around them with a kiss and a hug. Normally, I am not the one in the water. My husband is usually the “fun” one. BUT not today! Today, I got right in ignoring the fact that the water was a little cold. I instantly warped back to my childhood when my sister, brother and I would want to swim no matter what the temperature or the weather was like.
A raft that you could jump off of was floating not too far from shore. My oldest daughter was on top. She seemed determined and terrified to jump. You could tell that she desperately she wanted to but could not get her body to move to do it. Even with everyone’s encouragement and different jumping techniques demonstrated, she still would not move. So I thought maybe if she jumped with me, she could do it. Today, I was a fun-mom. I pulled myself up onto the dock and tried to persuade her to jump with me. When it seemed that there was no way she was jumping, I decided I was. I am not sure what technique I used, I just remember plunging into the water, rising bubbles tickling my skin and swimming to the surface leaving even more anxiety and control into the lake.
The whole day was fun and filled with good conversations and time spent with my friends. My friends and their family showered us with warm hospitality. We all felt welcomed, safe, and included. The kids had a blast. My two year old son had fun and did fine. Everything I worked myself up about and all the things I worried about did not come true. By the end of the night, I was exhausted in a good way. The type of exhaustion that feels like it is a cleansing for your body, making room for something else. The kind of exhaustion that helps you to reevaluate your strengths and weaknesses made through your efforts. An exhaustion that energizes you.
We stayed until 8:30 PM! As I pulled out of the driveway, I felt so incredibly grateful. I was grateful for friends that did not give up on me and kept asking me to come. Friends that stayed by my side to help me and cheer me on through the day. Everyone should have friends like them. I was grateful for summer, fun, and God’s beautiful creation. I was grateful to be alive and the opportunity to experience all of this with my kids. But most of all, I was grateful that I took a chance and ignored my fears. I was grateful that I pushed through my anxiety and proved to myself I could do it. My resolve was worth it, it was truly one of the best and most fun days of the summer.
(Note: My daughter finally did “jump” or should I say “slid” into the lake. But it was terrifying for her and it resulted in tears and all of us going to shore. Much later, she was proud that she did it! But I don’t think that it will be happening again anytime soon.)