When I found out my entire extended family was having an impromptu week in Cape Cod in the middle of July, I was instantly motivated to find a way to get down there for part of the week. I can’t remember the last time all 12 of us were together under one roof – plus my favorite aunt and uncle were visiting from Chicago and I desperately wanted to find some quality time with them too. What sealed the deal for me was finding out that my parents would be there too, which meant the ultimate in flexibility – and built in child care! I made an agreement with my mom to watch my kids during the day so that I could manage to stay back and find a quiet and cozy place to work during the day. With her buy in on this idea, plans were quickly underway!
I asked my husband to come along, of course, but obviously that was not an option for him given we made plans to be away, mid-week. He leaves the house every morning at 6am for his regular commute to Boston and doesn’t get home until well past 6pm. While working from home is definitely an occasional treat, his job demands that he be in the office every day for work. I, on the other hand, work from home every day, so for me it truly doesn’t matter where I work, as long as I don’t have any planned travel in the books.
We have the flexibility on this Tuesday to leave during off traffic hours and with that, a solid chance at beating Cape traffic. Our car was packed full of bags, fishing rods, beach games, snacks, and so much other accoutrement that I was pretty sure we would never even need. And since I was traveling with my kids, we also had the privilege of using the high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane on I-93 in Boston, which is open to anyone carpooling with 2 or more passengers. Bonus!
Like with any long car ride ahead, the kids managed to scarf down enough snacks to promptly induce a deep sleep in the back seat. This left me a quiet car and a few hours to dial into my scheduled conference calls, uninterrupted and guilt-free! Now we were on our way!
When we got to my uncle’s house, we were delighted to find that right next door to his house was a private tennis court that belong to the neighborhood complex. The kids were psyched! “Can we go to the tennis court?” they demanded. “Sure!” I replied, “you can go over and play anytime you want!” They were thrilled at this news. They both really seemed to enjoy tennis. They played at summer camp over the last few summers and had taken the occasional lesson, where as I had picked up a racket only a handful of times in my life. I was just glad they didn’t ask me to come along!
Then as quickly as that thought entered my mind, there it was “MOMMMM, can you come play with us????”
“Okay” I managed to say with some enthusiasm. What I really wanted to say was “I suck at this game and really don’t feel like chasing around a tennis ball on a tennis court in this blistering heat.”
The first few rounds were exactly that. Chasing around a tennis ball, on a tennis court, in the blistering heat. Between me and the 2 kids, our attempts at a decent volley were pathetic and we spent more time running sprints across the court picking up missed balls than anything else. Then, my youngest decided to take a break and walked back the house. That’s it, I thought. Game over.
Then I heard it. “Mommmm, can we keep playing????” I heard Johnny’s sweet plea and there was no way I was going to refuse. So, we kept on playing.
Then something magical happened.
We were actually hitting the ball. Both of us. Back and forth. Were we all of a sudden having a tennis match?
We had so much fun! Two hours later we both walked back to the house exhausted but incredibly fulfilled. Had we just found something new we could enjoy together?
“Mom. Can we play again tomorrow?” “YES! Johnny, we can play every day while we’re here. We can even find a tennis court at home and make time to play together. Just you and me.” The smile that exuberated in that moment from that little boy warmed my heart in a way that nothing else could ever match.
The next morning, (and every morning that week!), court time called earlier than I would prefer. Johnny was dressed and asking me to play by 6am every day. I managed to fend him off for a bit, at least while I enjoyed my morning coffee… (what can I say, my kids wake up early!)
And just like that, I found my unexpected treasure by the sea. ❤️