The other day my son was invited to his friend’s house in Conchas Chinas to go for a swim. I always enjoy it when my teenage children are invited to other people’s homes. I mean, I’m not a terrible mother, I have to actually know the people first. I definitely require their first names and their last ones too if they are so inclined (I am kidding, but I try not to fingerprint them on the first play date).
Sometimes my children turn down visits with friends, and I’m never sure why. My kids are really not busy enough to be exhausted on the weekends, and trust me when I tell you they aren’t exactly solving world hunger at home either. But they often tell me they are tired, or they want to be with me (my eyebrow is raised as I type this), or they prefer having friends over to our house. This is probably so that they can greet them at the front door and then go directly back to the couch.
But I really prefer it if they go to their friends’ homes, because it becomes an activity that someone else has to supervise and possibly pay for. And also because then I know they are being somewhat active and perhaps smiling. So when my son was invited, I played it cool and didn’t encourage him to go, because then he’d become suspicious that this was something I wanted. By the way, if you don’t have teens yet, let me be very clear: never, ever make it seem like you want them to do something because that’s the surest way not to have them do it.
So I just casually mentioned that his buddy wanted him to go over there and swim, and he asked me who else was going, so I told him that his other buddy was going. This was a satisfactory answer, so he said “sure,” and I saved my fist pump for the safety of my bedroom.
I dropped him off at the house and then debated what to do. My own home is about forty minutes from Conchas Chinas, and I knew that if I went back there, I’d have to do some tasks that I was currently trying to avoid. If I stayed away, I would have no access to all the report cards I needed to write by Monday.
The other thing that I realized is that I was very near my Old Stomping Grounds from my early years in Vallarta: Playa de los Muertos. This must be one of my favorite places on the planet. I had eaten a million amazing dinners there. I had heard the best music, seen the most brilliant sunsets, been wooed by the most handsome man (yes, honey, I mean you). It was within a half-hour of my own home, and yet I rarely had the chance to spend time there anymore because now my life is less my own and more everybody else’s.
So I parked my car and walked to Dee’s (best cranberry muffins since 2000). I grabbed an iced coffee and watched the band at the pier close out the evening for the annual fishing tournament. I walked down to the sand and watched the sun get swallowed by the same ocean that grabbed my heart nearly twenty years ago. I thought mostly about myself (and a little about the rest of them, I can’t help it) and didn’t feel a bit guilty.
I picked up my son, dripping wet and happy, and we went back home. We were both smiling because we each had a great time that had nothing to do with the other. And that’s ok. Actually, it’s better than ok; it was totally necessary.
Take some time, parents. Rediscover that carefree being who sunk her toes in the sand and watched the sunset all alone. Let someone else handle the kids while you take a moment to remember what an amazing life you have, and how you got there.