Mom, Mom, Mom #5

Issue date: June 22, 2006

Let’s Go Down the Shore!

It’s summer! Or, in other words, the annual season of “what to do with the kids for 10 weeks” has arrived.

When I was a kid, my family spent every summer at the beach in New Jersey (for those of you in the know, here’s the translation: “We went down the Shore.”) It was fabulous. To this day, once school lets out, I still expect to pack the station wagon with each and every pair of shorts, tee shirt and bathing suit I own and head south on the journey via the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway. It was a trip that seemed endless with excitement and anticipation growing up, but really only lasted a little more than an hour.

It’s one thing I wish I could give my children and the biggest thing I am grateful to my parents for—some time at the beach in the summer. That means more than just a day trip here and there. I’d love to give my kids the memories I relish, like learning to swim in the Atlantic Ocean, that waterlogged feeling from being in the water all day, playing miniature golf on the boardwalk every night, the feeling of freedom, riding my bike to meet friends at the beach, the list is endless. I would leave out the terrible sunburns and the panic-stricken time my older sister and I lost our little sister on the beach only to find her happily eating ice cream while entertaining a group of college students.

But the trip today would require a six-hour flight with my three girls, leaving behind the mini-van I drive. There are other things that get in the way, like the price and having to work for a living. My father bought a tiny house in Belmar, NJ, in the 1970’s for about $25,000; for that amount today, we would be able to rent the house for one season. My mother was a stay-at-home worker and the person who pushed first for the annual vacations and later to actually buy the house. Unfortunately, the house and my mother are gone, but the memories remain.

I have tried to recreate the scenario with my kids on both coasts. It just doesn’t seem to work in Northern California. There is no gulf stream in the Pacific Ocean, so while the Atlantic gets warmer as the season progresses, here you always need a wet suit to enjoy a swim. And, there have been many days at the beach here during which we have sat shivering and covered up in jackets and blankets in the fog by the sea.

My dilemma raises a bigger question: Can you ever recreate your own memories for your kids? Can it really be the same? Maybe my goal should be to just give them trips to the beach—many different beaches—and let them discover their most favorite memories and just have some fun along the way.

What’s your favorite beach? Send me a line: marylee@alamedanet.net.

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