Our little boat is getting evermore crowded. The twins have just gone through a growth spurt, suddenly not fitting their shoes, their pants suitable for high water and their little belly buttons popping out of the bottom of their shirts. And I’m not even going to mention the quantity of snacks their father and I are consuming during this isolated period. For all of us, mealtimes are a highlight of the day.
So the twins look, vaguely, like first mates on a pirate ship at the end of a long journey, all ragged and in need of a haircut. And lately, life does feel a little bit like living a boat. Our particular boat is a pretty nicely appointed suburban rental. Thank goodness for that; it has two bathtubs to sink into at the end of the day. One with an oversized anti-slip mat, a plethora of toys, and no-tears shampoo, the other with a towel permanently rolled up at one end, and a discount-sized bag of epsom salts at the other. We all need extra-long soaks these days.
Unfortunately though, our boat is not docked at port. Currently our ship, like so many others, are far out in the middle of the ocean. We can’t even see the shore, and we’re not sure when we’ll see it again. We’re sailing in high winds.
The days are long. We’re on a skeleton crew, just two skippers and two first mates, attempting to do it all. We’re mopping the deck everyday, just to keep up with the mess. We’re busy writing emails and taking calls, meanwhile trying to plan lunch and craft-time. Today I made chicken noodle soup while watching the twins play a particularly violent game of Hickory Dickory Dock and simultaneously participated in a conference call. I now know the limits of multitasking.
But the real challenge is entertainment. The view doesn’t change much; just the horizon as far as the eye can see. The stars are pretty out here in the middle of the ocean, but they’re the same stars every night. This is where the twins truly shine as bunk mates. They’re never in a bad mood, they don’t let you rest on your laurels, and they don’t even seem to miss the busy life we once had, sailing from daycare to home to the grocery store.
Out here on our isolated, messy, hectic boat, we survive each day as if we’re perilously perched at the crest of a tidal wave, and gently cruise into evening on an even keel. Each morning, we awake to the swell of the waves again.
It’s overwhelming to not know when we’ll see the shore again. To not know when our families will come to visit our boat again. To not know when the twins will get to have friends, or learn new things that we can’t teach them. To not know when we’ll get a break from the expanse of ocean.
But the stars are the same every evening, and they’re bright out here in the middle of the ocean. Without distractions, their intricacy is more pronounced. We’re getting to know our capacity, and our resilience. We’re getting to know the subtle markers of our children’s blossoming personalities. These wondrous, difficult, beautiful days that we’re sharing together on this boat are ones we will no doubt cherish, when we look back on them, years from now.