I made a big mistake the other day.
When I opened my eyes, I’d sped from a mom of preschoolers to a mom of preteens.
It took two minutes.
Time is a trickster. How else could my little girl go from this…
…when she was a three-week-early five-pounder YESTERDAY?
I don’t know how to feel about this.
The 1-Decade Getaway
In an effort to hit the brakes on time, and more intentionally soak in its fleeting moments, Tim and I decided to start a new tradition. When our kids turn 10, one of us will take the birthday girl or boy on a solo trip.
Annabell, our firstborn, hit the decade mark last November, so I made plans to steal her away for a quick overnight retreat over the summer. Our much-anticipated 36 hours began last Friday, and we had such a fabulous time, I need to share some highlights.
36 Hours with My Firstborn
The trip started predictably, which is to say our Mastiff, Pixie, snuck into the van and planted her considerable bottom in the driver’s seat. With a little coaxing (and minor food-inspired manipulation), we convinced her to stay behind.
Our destination was Ocean Grove, NJ, a small beach town halfway between Philadelphia and NYC. Why there? My first order of business when planning our trip had been to check Steven Curtis Chapman’s tour schedule. (If you’ve only known me for a few minutes, it’s possible you aren’t aware of my deep, devoted Christian love for all things Steven.) His first stop on the summer tour? Unassuming little Ocean Grove, home of the Great Auditorium, an enormous, historic concert venue.
Thankfully, both Steven and the weather cooperated with our plans. We arrived in Ocean Grove midday on Friday and spent a few gorgeous hours on the beach. Low heat, no humidity, an ocean breeze—it couldn’t have been more perfect.
We searched for shells, swam in the surf, and ate cold grapes with our sea-salt fingers. I’m not sure I’ve ever absorbed so much enjoyment out of time with one of my kids. What a gift to be one-on-one, away from the cares of home, sharing a new experience together.
After quick showers at our hotel and dinner at Chili’s, we headed back to Ocean Grove for the Big Event: Annabell’s first ever live performance by SCC. I’ve raised my kids right, which is to say they know his songs by heart (full-spectrum memorization for recent years; greatest hits from his early albums). Annabell was about half as excited about this momentous occasion as I was, which is to say she was absolutely giddy.
The Great Auditorium turned out to be without air conditioning, but since it’s built like Noah’s Ark, and has enormous louvered panels near the arched ceiling, a cool ocean breeze kept us comfortable. Good thing, too, because the evening turned out to be two hours of glorious worship, with two thousand people on their feet, elbow to elbow.
When I say worship, that’s exactly what I mean. (And to be clear, we weren’t worshiping Steven.) I’ve attended plenty of SCC concerts over the years, but this was the first in which he shared fresh music from a project he hasn’t even finished yet. The songs were so new, in fact, that he brought out a music stand so he could cheat on the chords and lyrics. Turns out our Steven has been putting together songs intended for corporate worship, and we were his very first test choir. He even recorded us!
After our late night with Steven, we slept in and enjoyed a lazy morning at the hotel pool before heading back to the beach for a few final hours. The weather was just as gorgeous as the previous day, and we took advantage of everything the beach had to offer. More swimming, more seashells, a sandcastle, books and snacks in the shade of our umbrella.
We took one final stroll down Ocean Grove’s main street, bought some taffy and fudge, and headed home. We were sunburned, sandy, and exhausted, but our hearts were full in a way they’d never been before. We’d made memories that belonged exclusively to the two of us, mother and daughter—memories we could enjoy to a depth and fullness only made possible because my little girl isn’t so little anymore.
Maybe time isn’t such a trickster after all.