About a week into our road trip I started having nagging thoughts indicating something wasn't quite right. The intrusive feeling would hit me like an ocean wave, take hold of my brain for a few seconds, and then wash ashore as I'd forget about it for awhile. I couldn't quite put my finger on what it was that was making me feel a little uneasy. Finally, though, on our last morning at a random Missouri State Park I was able to connect the dots.
The boys and I had just packed up our beach bag and they threw on their fluorescent green helmets. We headed towards the campground beach, boys with their bikes and I with my running shoes. The sunlight filtered through the dense trees and onto the asphalt as we biked the short distance to our little beach at Lake of the Ozarks campground. A thought jumped in my head and I quickly patted down my pockets. I had forgotten my phone. Damn. For an instant I thought I needed to go back to Spud for fear of missing some earth-shattering moment or even worse, a social media breakthrough. But since we had no service anyway, I brushed away the thought and kept up with the boys. We arrived at the empty beach and I settled under some large shady trees while the boys peeled off their clothes and skedaddled towards the water just like the family of softshell turtles we had startled on our arrival.
For the next hour I watched them play, splash, and use their imaginations. They had giant logs for surfing, used sand as "cake batter", and made their hands into shark fins. They would exclaim "Mom, watch this!", fling their tan little bodies underwater and hold their breath for a few seconds, then pop up giggling and seeking approval from me. For the hundredth time in a row I'd exclaim how cool that was that they were holding their breath. Unlike other times though, this time I didn't mind responding to them for the umpteenth time. Chip or I would normally be in the water but this particular morning I couldn't help but just sit and stare. I loved seeing the connection and camaraderie between these two independent and silly boys. The joy they were having with one another, no one interfering with their play, no one telling them what to do or not to do.
Here, more than I'd ever felt it before, was a strong reminder to stay present, to live in the moment without documenting it. These little three year old twins won't be splashing, goofy boys forever. I'll admit, it is often so hard for me to turn off the white noise that phones and computers present. I'm learning that I don't have to capture every moment of the trip. I don't need to log in to facebook everyday. I don't have to write a blog post every week. Posting a picture to social media can be on my own time and not every moment of the trip. In a world where there's the need or pressure to stay connected, I am quickly realizing that the real connection I need to focus on does not require 4g service.
After all the swimming and splashing was done and both boys' bodies were shriveled into prunes, they came and plopped down next to me on the beach to warm up under the sun. Reid grabbed my arm and says "Ok, I'm ready to go home now." My heart sank. "Home? But we don't...." and before I could finish my sentence he interrupted me "Yeah, I'm ready to go to Spud now." And I sighed a breath of relief. I felt the weight lifted off my shoulders that day, for more reason than one.
I will leave you with photos from the three beautiful days we spent in Lake of the Ozarks State Park in Missouri plus a side visit to Elephant Rocks State Park.
Stay tuned for our next blog post - Family time and a ton of visits with friends in Ohio, Michigan, and Minnesota!