Patience is an ocean

On the first day of our vacation, I took Noah to the beach. Just us. Jason was putting out one last work fire. Ezra was...well, he was eating, having already figured out that 1) all the food here was delicious, and 2) he could get into the kitchen via an always-open back door, and that there was ALWAYS someone in there cooking something, and they were ALWAYS happy to give him a taste, like an over-eager puppy begging for scraps.

So Noah and I went to the beach. I might as well have taken him to the dentist, because he did not want to go to the beach, because of the ocean. He did not want to go near the ocean. He did not want to look at the ocean or hear the ocean. NO OCEAN. He stood as far back on the sand as he possibly could, practically climbing up a wall of rocks in his bare feet, adamant about the NO OCEAN part.

The ocean in Jamaica is not like the ocean here, which knocked Noah over two summers ago and he has refused to go near since. (He holds a mean grudge, I've learned.) It's calm, shallow. There's no undertow and the breakers barely come above your knees. But he didn't care. NO OCEAN. I went in the water without him. I waved and cajoled and explained. I tried to talk him into sticking just a toe in, or to just come a little closer where we could build a sandcastle.

NO OCEAN. He said he wanted to go back to the house.

And I felt that familiar feeling. I was frustrated and annoyed, even though technically I understood. Technically. But still. COME ON. It was like the end of every birthday party or disastrous outing, the miserable ultimate conclusion of something that was supposed to be fun. I felt that tired old instinct to throw up my hands and say FINE. WHATEVER. WE'LL LEAVE. To give up.

Most of the time at home, I admit: I just give up.

I sat down next to Noah and tried to think of what else I could say. He was throwing sand, something we're always scolding him about at the crowded Maryland beaches, where there's wind and other people to annoy. He looked at me, waiting for the rebuke. Instead, I picked up a clump of sand and hurled at the water's edge.


Noah looked at me like I'd lost my mind. But he smiled. I did it again.


Another smile, this time with dimple. He picked up some sand and threw it at the ocean, repeating my challenge.

We did this for awhile. Then I crept closer and stomped on a wave as it lapped up the beach. "YOU DON'T SCARE ME, WATER." I kicked at it, sending a spray upward. Noah laughed.

And he came over and kicked the next wave. "YOU DON'T SCARE ME EITHER, WATER," he shouted.

After awhile, I picked him up and took the plunge. We waded in. He clung to my neck and howled. The water touched his feet and he screamed.

I smacked at the water, making another huge splash. "YOU DON'T SCARE ME, WATER."

Noah raised his head from where he'd buried it in my shoulder and watched me splash again. I walked in a little deeper and he hesitantly reached his hand out to hit the water's surface. It splashed back over both of us...and he laughed.


And from that moment on, it didn't. 






Good job, mama!


That just brought tears to my eyes. Go Noah! Go conquer that ocean.


Oh, Amalah! This story got me all teary. You are such a great mom! Way to go, both of you! :-D


You don't scare me amalah, but you do make me cry.


Aaaaaaah I have so been there. In exactly that place. Except okay not exactly because it was Alabama (which has lovely beaches by the way) not Jamaica. But the screaming kid terrified of even letting one toe touch the ocean? The ocean that people pay to go see, the ocean that practically everyone at loves to look at, that practically everyone wants to at least wet their feet in even if they don't want to swim? Yeah. The same place.

I wish I had thought of yelling at the ocean.

I did get him in though, eventually.


Well, you (and Noah) have gone and made me all teary-eyed. AGAIN.

That was beautiful. Good job, Mama! And way to be brave, Noah!! :)


I so needed to read this today. When parenting my 8-month-old, I am reminded daily that I need a heaping dose of patience. Thank you for giving me some of yours. This was a brilliant post. One of my favorites.

Thrift Store Mama

What a great team the two of you make. Way to go.


Tears here, too. This story is yet another reason why, Amy, you were meant to be Noah's mommy!!


That. is. awesome. !!!


Way to go, Momma! Way to go, Noah!


This post and the last one just melted my heart. Thank you - gives me hope for my little man.


You just... rock, that's all. You rock. As a mom and as a person. I'm glad there are people in the world like you. You make the world a better place.


Oh! Wonderful. Just wonderful. Noah is so awesome. As is his mama.


you're such a fantastic mommy. :) truly! you're an inspiration to mothers out there who are on the edge of losing their patience!

Erin (Snarke)

What a great memory to have (and a great re-telling of the story). You are a fantastic writer!


That was a really sweet and beautiful story. I love reading Amalah becuase of your wicked sarcasm, but its posts like that make me smile...


Again, you make me cry. Only this time it's 4 days postpartum, so it's like a river. Gah.

(don't worry; they're happy tears)


Yay for Noah! And yay for you for going for it and figuring it out. What a great moment.


Made me cry! You're an inspiration.


you just ruined my perfectly-drawn eyeliner... *sniff*

absolutely fantastic, i am so glad for you guys =)

The Bug

I'm just glad I'm not the only person that cried while reading this. You are such a great mommy!!


You, my dear, are amazing. What a great mommy moment for you! Bravo!




I'm so proud of you Amy!


Brilliant! You now have another tool in your arsenal. So happy for the both of you!


You're a wonderful mother and Noah is as lucky to have you as you are to have him.


I know that you’re a mom and just like most of us moms you spend a lot of time thinking about all the things you’re doing wrong but when I read your blog all I can think about is all the stuff you are doing SO very right.
You’re awesome, Noah’s awesome, Ezra and Jason are awesome. Thank you so much for letting us have a little glimpse into your world.


Genius, Amy! And what a beautiful post...

M. Bailey

You are an amazing mom. Truly an inspiration. Keep up the great work ;) Noah is lucky to have you -- and Ezra as well. Your comments about him eating cracked me up. Your boys are like little minitures of what mine were (they are 7 adn 5 1/2 now). Enjoy it all.


Wow. I am soooo happy for your triumphant moment...It honestly did bring tears to my eyes!


Cute kid. Smart mommy.


I think this is one of the nicest stories I've read in a while. Thanks for posting!

Sadie at heymamas

What a great idea!! And it totally worked.

Sadie at heyMamas

Sadie at heymamas

What a great idea!! And it totally worked.

Sadie at heyMamas


Great thinking! I'm not sure I would have come up with that. I might have just given up myself. Reminds me that sometimes I need to take a step back and try a new approach.


I've been an avid reader of this blog for years and have read the stories of your struggles and successes with Noah... but this is the first story that brought tears to my eyes. What an amazing little man, and what a big accomplishment for BOTH of you! I'm in awe.


That was so wonderful! Thank you for sharing the story.

Mrs Chaos

I have big tears at this.

I LOVE THIS POST. It is something a lot of grown-ups can learn from too.

Well done, Mama.


Oh, Amy. That's wonderful.
Well done, mama.

This made me think of the Playful Parenting book, which I think I need to read again.




I've been a loyal reader for oh gosh maybe 4 years now and I've NEVER COMMENTED. This story however made me cry at my desk - perfect...just perfect. Thank you


That. is awesome. What a good momma you are! You should be proud of yourself and of Noah.


Best Parenting Moment EVER. That was GENIUS, Amy!


stroke of genius, amazing insight. i wish i could keep my brain working when the frustration creeps in...


That's using your DIR! Just brilliant. And wonderful!


Seriously. BEST. MOM. EVER.


I don't normally comment here, but I just had to echo everyone else and say this is a beautiful post about patient and good mothering.

Mariana Perri

That's the finest example of a mom who teaches her kid how to fish, instead of just giving him some boring old dead fish!
Sure, giving up is easy and, at the end, it's what we, moms, end up doing most of the time in our daily battles with "taming" the little ones... it can be quite tiresome to deal with the everyday challenges... but, then a snap comes along and WOW, we get through!
You were all over this whole fear of water thing! Congrats!!!!
Keep fishin' girl!

Mariana Perri

That's the finest example of a mom who teaches her kid how to fish, instead of just giving him some boring old dead fish!
Sure, giving up is easy and, at the end, it's what we, moms, end up doing most of the time in our daily battles with "taming" the little ones... it can be quite tiresome to deal with the everyday challenges... but, then a snap comes along and WOW, we get through!
You were all over this whole fear of water thing! Congrats!!!!
Keep fishin' girl!

Lancelot and Lady's Mom

What a hopeful post and what an amazing mommy!

liz d

I haven't commented before, but I wanted to tell you about a friend of mine who has a daughter on the autism spectrum. She found that after a trip to FL (we live in MN), her daughter had a burst of language and improved behavior (she was 4). They were looking at vitamin D and trying to figure out if it was from the sunshine or ??? You never know, but I thought it was very interesting. I love reading your blog and love your sense of humor.

Susanna Orr

fucking. rad.

rock it amalah.


You make me cry , each and every time you write about Noah conquering his fears,obstacles. Please do keep writing, since it not only encourages other parents to keep trying , it does give ideas on handling different sitauation also. loved this posts amy!


Great job momma! Love it! This is a lesson that many of us can learn from. It's always a good idea to try something new or never know, do you?


You are such a good mom. Beautiful story.


so lovely, such a powerful moment for both of you! With Noah's wonderful imagination and blossoming story-telling skills check out this great picture book Wave by Suzy Lee, I think that you both will love it, a great way to reinforce how he joyfully conquered the ocean and felt his own power!


I'm a frequent reader, but I've never commented. I have to say, though: what an awesome parenting moment, and what a wonderful way of relaying the story. Great, great post.




Once again, you have made me cry at work. So wonderful!


Love this story. My parents have a house in Corolla - and we live at the beach ourselves. I am happiest with my toes in the sand. But all three babies cried the first time their toes hit the water. Now, I can't get them out.


Awe, respect, inspiration, admiration. Just a tiny selection of the words that come to mind when I think of you.


Awe, respect, inspiration, admiration.

Just a tiny selection of the words that come o mind when I think of you.


That is just awesome! You will never forget that day with your son.

Mommy Cracked

As a mom of a 5 year old with SPD, I am over here celebrating this HUGE accomplishment for Noah. I'm also stealing this genius idea of yours to try! I'm glad y'all had that moment.


THAT is seven flavors of awesome. You da MOM!!!


LOVE IT. Now please come to my house and convince my 11 year old that even though we have a household income below the poverty line due to job loss and not being experience snow roof removers, I AM MAKING THE SACRIFIC TO PUT BRACES ON HER TEETH AND SHE OUGHT TO BE KISSING MY FEET instead of sulking like a rock star who is out of coke.




Brilliant. I would have never thought of that. You're such a good mommy.


Way to go Amy and Noah! Very creative Amy, you know your son best and I know will continue to come up with creative solutions that are so Noah.

Mrs. Kinne

This made me tear up.

I work at an elementary school, and I can say without reservation that I wish more kiddos went home to a mom like you.


I thought this was super sweet. I'm not a mom yet, but I read this and totally tucked it away for future reference. Beautiful!


Aww. This brought tears to my eyes. What a lovely way to teach him.

samantha jo campen

I'm crying.


Hi, I haven't actually commented before (I don't think) but I love your blog and your photos.

I had a question about these beach photos: how did you protect your camera (or did you?!) I'm going whale watching next month and I want to take the fancy nice camera to take fancy pictures but um, don't want it to be destroyed.

Fairly Odd Mother

Crying here. This is absolutely lovely and inspired.

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