I am a planner. I love to plan. I think about what I want to accomplish, envision a way to get there, think of a better way, write it down, rethink, and maybe revise a third time. When I can’t sleep at night, I plan.
Today, our sweet daughter turned two. We spent the morning driving to Maryland so we could spend memorial day weekend together, as a family. While one Cagle thinks that this is the girl’s birthday present, the other, sappier &; of the more masculine persuasion begs to differ and, secretly, I’m okay with that.
Eileen & I arrived to an unknown beach, staying at an unknown condo, and being with each other in this unknown place. I had spent many a nap hours in the afternoons of February and March researching, planning, charting, making notes and phone calls, and preparing for this three day weekend that we would spend together as a family.
Two years ago, we were sleep deprived, fresh from surgery, and had this tiny human in our care. She would not eat, was losing weight, I had just had major surgery, and Wife said to Husband, as often as Husband said to Wife, how deep love runs. “I love you the same, but I love you so much more-- it’s softer. I feel more tied to you than I ever have,” I remember saying during one 3am feeding where Husband was helping Eileen. “I agree,” he responded, suppressing a yawn & the knowledge that he had to be working two floors down in about an hour.
But, we planned for this life. We prepared. We were, despite our best efforts, ready.
Today, I had a monogrammed picnic basket in one hand and a baby’s hand in the other. Eileen was jumping from here to there and found herself more impressed with the rocks in the parking lot than what lay ahead of her. “Come on, Eileen. Those rocks are nothing compared to what you are about to see. Let’s GO!”
Scooping her up, we made our way through new sand; it’s browner here than what I am used to. And annoyingly thicker. Difficult in flip flops. But, those are the breaks. Eileen started to pitch a fit and I said, “OH! Hear that? That’s the water!” An “Ohhhhh” came out of nowhere and she started wiggling to get down.
The sand was hot. The water was cold and it scared her. She found no comfort other than in my arms. As she started to warm up and begin to inch across the towel away from my loving grasp there was a moment, merely a flicker, where my pink toenails were splashed with sand and her little pink toes were next to mine. As I reached for my camera to capture this perfect, unplanned, moment, it was gone.
She never left the towel, but worked towards playing with the sand. Just as she really started warming up to it, a large clump landed smack in her eye. She screamed. She cried. She howled. She wiped her sandy eye with her sandy hand and made it much, much worse. All I could do was hold her as I looked around trying to remember how to get sand out of the most painful place sand can go. As the sand came out with the tears, her sandy hands found their way to her eyes, starting the cycle over again. Finally, after holding her hands, rinsing her eyes with water from our water bottle, she started to cool down and climbed into my lap, into my arms, and nuzzled into my neck.
These moments that I don’t plan for are the best ones.