In the hour just after the sun went down and the other families went home, the sea turned the most beautiful shade of blue. The light was gentle and warm, as was the summer evening air.
This is one of my favourite seasons of all, when the days are long and the air is warm enough to swim in the sea late into the evening.
And in parallel, I am so in love with this season of motherhood and family, the years between babyhood and childhood. That unique time of transition, while your child begins to venture beyond your arms, to discover the feeling of paddling in the sea and to more consciously experience the joy of sand between the toes. I remember this time with my boys with complete warmth and love. There is a simplicity to these days, before beginning school and having busy social lives. The world is theirs to experience and the days are yours to soak up together.
On this summer evening, Alba was ready to experience it all! I loved to watch as she moved her feet in the sand and ran her fingers over the stones. Her beautiful mum and dad watched her full of love and awe. And then, in true toddler style she did her best to eat every single pebble on the beach and hide them in her chubby cheeks when she got found out. Isn't that what this chapter is all about? It’s relentless and non stop and magical. It’s resting into each others arms for those brief and precious moments while your babe is content and absorbed then jumping to your feet the next minute to avert her from falling, or tripping or eating all the stones. This season is cold cups of tea and half finished conversations. It’s watching in awe and wander as they find their feet and find their way in the world whilst being right there for them when they need you again, returning to your arms and your skin, your kisses and your heartbeat. It’s constantly adjusting and finding the balance between space and safety, between boundaries and connection. It’s going on big adventures then coming right back for milk and cuddles.
They splashed together in the water and paddled in the gentle, rippling waves. They held her hands while she wandered and scooped her up when she got wet. They lay in the sand together and bathed in their sweet love for each other, relishing the brief and occasional pause. This family had the most beautiful connection and love. They are a team and it was so special to observe them in this space together, the way they moved so effortlessly from one moment to another.
There is no doubt that these years of toddlerhood are intense, full of emotion and discoveries. With every cold and sleepless night there is an extra snuggle in the morning, an excuse to be slow and present. For every fall that cuts their head and breaks your heart, there is the quiet connection of a little hand in yours. For every long day when bedtime doesn't come quite quick enough, there is a whole heart full of love when you tuck them in at night and see them sleeping soundly in bed.
And for every family, in this season and all the seasons, I wish for them the same love that I saw in them, that evening at the beach, with Hannah, Matt and Alba.