This week’s guest holds a special place in my heart for the letters she writes to her children. When Lindsey Mead writes to her daughter I somehow feel more connected to my own mother. Oh, I don’t imagine Lindsey as my mom—I’m not THAT girl—but the experiences she shares on her blog in both motherhood and life tend to offer beautiful perspective on how we all get through the things life throws at us. Often times after reading a piece of hers, I feel more human, more connected to my world, more connected to life. Her writing is … see for yourself:
This will be our fourth summer visit to Legoland. Everybody around me thinks this is a tradition somewhere between ridiculous and insane. In 2010, I had the summer off between two jobs, and I decided on a whim to fly to San Diego with the kids to visit Legoland. Whit was five, Grace was seven, and both were Lego-obsessed. The spur of the moment decision became an extraordinarily special and memorable four days, which in turn became a cherished tradition.
This summer we’ll go back. Grace, Whit and I are all eagerly anticipating the trip. We love everything about it, including the long flights (which are always connecting flights because we try to fly on miles), the hotel, the dining room, the pool, the curving walkway down to the park’s entrance, and the Cocoa Krispies for breakfast. Every detail of this trip has ossified into ritual, and the small things have as much importance as the big ones.
Traditions are the scaffolding on which our family’s daily life is built. I am sentimental about and attached to the rituals that dot our year, but Grace and Whit are equally so. In fact the power of their devotion to these traditions, among which Legoland is the most cherished, often surprises me. There is something absolutely magical about Legoland for us, and I’ve never quite been able to express it in words. The kids love it, of course, because it’s Legoland, but I think they also adore the fact that it’s a trip that is just for and about them. It is a concrete expression of the way I make their joy a priority.
And what a joy those four days are. At Legoland we are happy, we laugh, we shout as the roller coaster plunges down, we have ice cream after dinner, we dive headlong into the pool over and over again, we collapse into bed exhausted, full of joy and sunshine and sugar. The trip to California is the distillation of summer. Grace and Whit’s excitement at being there is contagious, and with them I’m able to sink fully into summer.
It is somewhat incongruous that I have fallen into a tradition with an amusement park, because the truth is I have always hated roller coasters. Part of this comes from a deep-seated need for control. My white knuckle grip on the handle of the universe is exhausting, but essential to assure that the earth keep rotating. Surely this means I hate being strapped into a carriage without any ability to control my speed, direction, or orientation. But there’s another reason I don’t like them. The swooping up-and-down movement along the tracks is simply too close to my own internal topography, which is already a kind of roller coaster. I climb to outrageous joy and plummet to tearful heartache every single day. Hell, I do that every hour. Just inside my own head and heart. Maybe it’s too overwhelming to also have my body do this.
I still haven’t embraced big, upside-down, lose-your-lunch (and hat, sunglasses, bag, and anything not nailed down) roller coasters. But I’ve learned to love the fairly gentle ones at Legoland. Some of this is probably simply maturity, and part of it is surely just sucking it up because Grace needed someone to go with her before Whit was tall enough. But I think it is also because at Legoland, in the summer, I’m able to release my need for control. And more importantly, the roller coaster inside my spirit smooths out to a much quieter ride through the tunnels of ease and delight. In that place, I can throw my arms in the air with Grace and Whit beside me, as we plummet down the first fall of Project X, and smile for the camera.
Lindsey Mead is a mother and a writer who lives outside of Boston with her husband and two children. Her work has been published and anthologized in a variety of print and online sources including the Huffington Post, Torn: True Stories of Kids, Career, and the Conflict of Modern Motherhood, Literary Mama, Brain, Child, and the Princeton Alumni Weekly. She writes regularly at A Design So Vast and is also active on twitter and Facebook. This picture was taken on the last night at Legoland last year. She can’t wait to go back.
Part of the Summer of Authenticity: Fully Alive! series, now available as a free eBook!