It was an unusually hot day with clear blue skies at Clam Beach on Wednesday. One of those rare and precious days when the coastal fog lifts, leaving a day that shines like a jewel in a weather mine. Us bathing suit clad beach goers could see clear out to Strawberry Rock and Trinidad Head.

view from Clam Beach of Strawberry Rock and Trinidad Head

My boys shucked off their shirts and waded out the moment we reached the ocean. I stood with my toes in the lapping water and my eyes glued to their jumping and splashing selves. No fun activity makes me more nervous and overprotective than deep water, especially at the beach. The ocean is no joke. People die every year. When they were littler, I wouldn’t even take them to the beach without another grown-up as back-up. And now that they’ve just begun to doggie paddle in calm water, its only fractionally safer. I don’t relax for an instant when they’re playing in the waves. It’s constant vigilance; a real labor of love.

Its worth it, when I see the joy on their faces as the waves crash into them.

Brother and Young Son playing in the surf

waves splashing around the boys

joyfully playing in the waves

As parents, we make so many sacrifices to provide as best we can for our offspring. We give up our independence, and a level of comfort and relaxation, to ensure our kids have support and safety. With each sacrifice, it becomes easier. Kneeling at the alter of our own humility, we grow calluses in the right places. In exchange, we receive an intangible gift of our children’s oblivious gratitude. And it just feels right.

The universe has a way of opening up and showing us pieces of the great mystery when we are ready to receive it. A shape caught my children’s eyes, as they played in the water. Something was floating past them on the waves and it turned out to be a dead pelican.

dead pelican floating on the water

The boys checked it out, and then went back to frolicking in the surf. Perhaps they were a degree more informed about the balancing act that is life, after that sight. And still every bit as happy to be taking part in it all.

boys in the ocean waves

Not long after that, a beautiful jellyfish swam, pulsing with life, past me in the shallows. I wish Brother and Young Son had seen this too, it was really cool.

brownish orange jellyfish swimming through shallow clear ocean water

Standing there in the shallows, watching the boys, I got used to the cold water and I put my camera away and went out into the waves with them. Which never happens. I couldn’t believe it was so nice. It was like I’d been transported to some other place on earth. This is the North Coast. I never go in the ocean here. And there I was, waves crashing up to my waist. I was shrieking with the cold, and loving every second.