I wish motherhood always looked like this. Scroll down my Instagram feed, or anybody else’s, and it kind of does. Happy. Pretty. Fun. Easy. A picture can say a thousand words, but there’s usually a thousand more words untold.
Getting my family of five ready for a quick trip to the beach is anything but quick. A couple weeks ago I really wanted to go see the sunset over the Pacific. I first had to convince my husband that the effort to get everyone out the door for a few hours would be worth it. (And I had to do this believing it would be because honestly, who ever knows if a tantrum could become mighty enough to dwarf a Pacific sunset? It’s a crapshoot, always.) I had to pack a picnic dinner they probably wouldn’t eat, because they never eat what I prepare, along with clothes they may or may not wear. Swimsuits to winter hats, because this was Northern California in the fall. It suddenly felt like I was packing for a week long vacation instead of an evening away.
Then of course Eliana needed her bear, Rebecca, and then Rebecca needed a bathing suit. Then Stephen and Juliette needed a stuffed friend because it Just Wasn’t Fair if Eliana was the only one with a toy. Only then could we buckle three kids into their car seats, the toddler screaming and arching, as usual, and drive west. At this point we put all of our trust into Siri, hoping she wouldn’t steer us wrong to a beach we had only been to once before. She didn’t.

We drove up to the parking lot and I quickly realized there was too many amazing cliffs blocking a clear view of the sunset. Amazing or not, I wanted what I wanted so we put our trust into technology again and kept driving 2 more miles to the next beach. Somewhere we had never been, which is not always the best thing to do when you have 3 little kids, but we were feeling adventurous.
Highway One on a Saturday evening. Ugh…2 miles took longer than we wanted and the sun was getting lower in the sky. What was I thinking? We shouldn’t have pushed our luck. I ruined everything!!! (Or at least this Saturday night.) No, probably everything.

We arrived and unpacked three kids and 3 billion bags of necessities. Where was the entrance?? While looking for it we ran into a young couple with a nearly empty bottle of Captain Morgans. They were asking us for something to clean the girl’s wound. She had fallen trying to climb back up from the beach and her arm looked awful. We were going to take our kids down that way? What were we thinking? But then we found the steps that the couple were apparently too inebriated to use. OMG. Only about 100 or so steps down. I looked at all of our stuff and our kids, who suddenly looked smaller than they just did in the car.

I took all the bags, my husband took the toddler and I repeatedly told Eliana and Stephen to Hold Onto The Railing!! We made it and the sun was still above the horizon! The food went untouched, surprisingly Rebecca the bear never got in the water, and we didn’t need hats or bathing suits. (It was Northern California in the fall. The weather was perfect.)

Going back up the steps was harder than going down. Julio and I, and our unconditioned calves, were sore for a couple days which was about the same amount of time that it took for me to rid our house of sand. There’s still traces of it in the car. We were at the beach a little over an hour.

The pictures show a special evening, the parts where the everyone was happy, the gorgeous scenery and amazing sunset. Motherhood is made up of these picture perfect moments (and I do love when that happens) but it’s also made up of so much more. Behind the beauty of motherhood is usually a lot of hard work and a big mess. It’s never easy, but it’s always worth it.

2 thoughts on “What the Picture Doesn’t Show

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