Story by

Mahliya Montgomery

September 26th, 2017

Our family took a day trip to Santa Cruz for Labor Day. We wanted to get back to nature, but it was also an excuse for me to catch up with one of my closest friends I hadn't seen in years. We had planned on heading out early so that we could go for a hike before hitting the beach, but we all had a hard time getting up and ended up leaving later than planned. We decided to skip the hike and just meet for lunch then head to the beach.

When we were almost there, it started raining and we worried that our plans would be ruined. When we got to Santa Cruz, we met my friend and her boyfriend to grab a quick bite at Mission Street Barbecue. It was such a treat to catch up with my friend because the last time we saw each other my oldest, who's now three and half, was only five months old.

After lunch, we headed to the beach. We were so happy when we got there and saw that the weather was warm enough to enjoy the day. In fact, it was pretty hot. We ended up having to park a little way from the beach, so we didn't bring one of the bags because it was just too much to carry. Of course that was the bag that had the swimsuits! I was worried about how the girls would do with the walk, especially my oldest. She did great and got super excited when walked past a soccer tournament.

It was hard not to feel a little discouraged because we had planned the "perfect" day and things were just not going to plan. When we got to the beach, none of that mattered. Ava had a blast chasing the waves and letting the water come up to her feet. We forgot the sand toys in the car, but she had just as much fun "baking" sand cookies with Daddy. To us, they looked like sand mounds, but to her they were the real deal. It is the coolest thing watching your kid's imagination run wild.

Maia had the time of her life playing in the sand and wasn't even afraid of the waves. It was her first time at the beach and the memories we made will forever be cherished. I got to catch up with one of my best friends and the girls loved getting to spend time with Auntie. The beach was packed, but it felt like it was just us. We shared some snacks and just enjoyed each other's presence. We watched the waves and even got to see a seal swimming close to the shore. That was priceless.

Eventually, the girls started to get tired so we headed back to the car and they both slept for most of the ride home. We were able to get home just in time to have dinner and prepare for the week ahead. It all ended up working out so well. It was just the restart we needed.

If I measured my happiness based upon how well the day fit with our plans, it would have been a disaster. As parents, we plan up the ideal trip because we want everything to go perfect for our kids. Sometimes we let minor bumps in the road ruin the day, but none of that matters to our children. I learned from my girls that sometimes the best days are the ones that don't go according to plan. Even though things didn't go as smoothly as I would have liked, it was all part of the adventure and added to the memories that we made. I learned that the little things will only get in your way if you let them.