3 min read

🌊 Mother’s Day, 2024.

My daughter kicking sand, as she does.

“Cover my feet! Cover my toes!” her tiny, precious feet lovingly buried in the sand while I stood back a good ten feet or so taking pictures of these two ladies I adore so, so much.

It’s a bright, windy day on the Oregon Coast.

We head to the beach a few days before Mother’s Day proper to avoid the crowds. The beach is mostly ours, how we like it, spare for a handful of couples and their furry companions, holding hands, holding empty dog leashes and keeping their distance.

“How’s that?” her mother asks, bended knee right in front of her, packing the last bits of sand on her feet, both of them incredibly content with the job that had been done.

I love moments like this, perfect little moments of the two of them. Mother and daughter. So much love in both direction. I snap some pictures.

“Pretty good,” she says in her tiny voice, repeating it as she often does, “pretty good, mama.”

As the husband and father in this love triangle, every single day I get to witness incredible acts of patience; the painting of one more kitty after seemingly a thousand kitties have already been painted, the reading of a book she’s heard now a million times (in a row) because pleaaaase, and tons of tiny other one-more-time things despite the physical and mental exhaustion that comes with the marathon of life that is a two-year-old.

And it’s not just patience, it’s the preparedness that always impresses me. I’m notoriously a “we’ll grab something on the way” type person if we’re headed out on any sort of adventure, trusting in the universe that there will somehow be a magical place to get the perfect food. But of course, a half-hour or so in, no open restaurant can be found and no one wants gas station chips, so instead she’s somehow able to manifest a tiny bag of pistachios from her bag — not just for me, but one for each of us.

And here at the beach, that preparedness is seen in full force — not just snacks, but ample sunscreen applied, proper hats on our heads and a pair of sunnies each keeping the sun out of our eyes.

“Pretty good,” she says wiggling her toes under the sand, and without hesitation or warning, she smiles and her little body does a powerful kick, with seemingly ten times more force than what should be possible with such small legs.

Sand goes flying, and her mother, still on her knees only a foot or so in front of her, takes every single grain on the face. Thousands of super tiny rocks beat down by the salty sea over millions of years cling to her face,

“Baby,” she says, clearly shocked, but incredible calm, “don’t kick, please.”

I chuckle slightly, still in shock at what transpired, “oh, baby” I let out as a sigh, knowing if it was my face that was instantly turned into 40-grit sandpaper I would not be so calm. Not so patient.

But she is. She exhibits this grace that I can only describe as magical.

She knows our daughter didn’t mean it, that at just-under-three-years-old you haven’t fully formed the notion that actions have consequences. She knows she’s learning and that her job is to be there to help her learn every day. And she’s so incredibly good at her job.

Every day, but especially today, I see just how magical my wife really is: her patience and preparedness are just two of her most powerful magics. And, if you’ve ever met my wife, you know she has so many more.

Happy Mother’s Day.

A bunch of essays, photos and thoughts by Pat Castaldo.