There are not many moments of solace for a mother on vacation with her children. Who am I kidding? There aren’t many moments of solace for any parent, ever. You have to steal time whenever the opportunity strikes. I took my moment during our family vacation to Nova Scotia.

I put my feet in the cool waters of the Northumberland Strait and selected a special smooth white stone from the beach, one that fit perfectly into my palm, and made that my worry stone. I squeezed that stone tight with my eyes closed and I transferred all of my angst into it. The negative thoughts about the kind of mother I am versus the one I wanted to be, the kind of choices I have made in my career, the kind of house I keep (or don’t keep, depending on where the laundry lands), worries of how to make ends meet, and how to meet those ends.  I give them all a voice and filled the stone until the weight in my hand was warm and heavy. Then with my eyes still closed, I cast the stone as far as I could send it into the salt-water waves of the sea.

Good-bye guilt. Good riddance worries. So long paranoia. Kerplunk.

Of course this didn’t work. It isn’t that easy. How arrogant of me to think a defenseless stone would carry my burdens away. I opened my eyes to see that nothing had changed. My mind reminded me quickly of that fact. That stone sunk to the soft sandy bottom of the moving waters as if to defy my naïveté. You silly woman, you can’t throw your worries away. It doesn’t work like that.

I could have cursed the sea. I could have yelled to the heavens that this was unfair. No one on the beach would have heard me. There were just the waves, the sky and I.

The tide rolled in just as it does every day, keeping its own rhythm, taking its sweet, determined time, making no promises except that it will wash in, churn things up and then wash out again, leaving a landscape of mysterious gifts behind.

And there it was, my clarity.  As the waves rose up to my ankles, I remembered what I already knew, but so often forget. Change happens. That’s a good thing.

Of course, it doesn’t always feel good. How many times have I sworn that I would worry less and live larger?  But I don’t because there are emails to answer, bills to pay, appointments to make and keep and reschedule and a team waiting for my child to show up to practice. There are friends to please, employers to appease and deadlines to tease. It’ s not good or bad, it just is.

So there I stood on the rocks in the wake of a tide that was slowing leading up to a force that, in a few minutes, had the potential to overwhelm me. And while I could jump for higher ground, it would churn up every spec of the very place where I just stood, flipping stones, drudging up seaweed and delivering shells, bones, stones and treasures from the sea. By morning it would be a new setting, familiar but refreshed.

That is life: uncertainly certain. And there is a perfect harmony in that. The Northumberland Strait set me straight. I just have to keep riding the waves. Surf’s up.