On Friday afternoon, I went out for a photography job. My friend Carrie was watching the boys, and when I got back home, Adlai ran to the door as I opened it. His face looked so worried, as he blurted out, “Mom, we broke your starfish! It got stuck in the door and we broke it.”
The starfish in question was one we found on the best holiday of my life – in North Norfolk when Adlai was 18 months old. It was one of those amazing God moments…we were sitting on Salthouse Beach, which has since become one of my favourite places in the world. It’s one of those pebbly British beaches, and it was one of those perfect English summer days – cool when the wind blew, but warm in the sun. I sat on that pebbly beach with Simon while we watched Adlai toddle around, picking up stones. We were drinking americanos made by the quiet, kind man who serves real espresso out of the back of a white van in the parking lot adjacent to Salthouse Beach. Life was so, so sweet.
And then I saw it.
I don’t know how I saw it – it was the same colour as the millions of smooth tan stones on the beach. But it felt like what my friend Amaris calls a “God wink.” I’ve always wanted to find a whole, unbroken starfish. And on that perfect day, I did. I felt like God was saying, “Hey, I love you.”
The starfish has been sitting on our mantel ever since. As a reminder of our perfect holiday, and a reminder to me that my life is so full of blessing. Adlai knows how much I love it. He doesn’t remember the day we found it, but I’ve told him about it lots of times, and told him how special it is to me. It’s no wonder he was worried when I opened the door.
I don’t know how it got upstairs, but when you live in a house with two small boys, things move around. They get lost. And it was in the bathroom and they were playing hide and seek, and it got squished in the cupboard door and smashed into a million pieces. Carrie told me that Adlai cried when it happened. And that he said, “Mommy is going to be mad.”
So I had a choice right then. I could get mad, because something special to me got broken. I’ve done that before. Or I could bend down, hug my beautiful son, and tell him it was okay. That I was disappointed to lose it, but that it was an accident, and accidents happen, and we can look for another one. I’m glad to say that this time, I made the right choice.
Special things often get broken in our house. But we can find another starfish, or buy another lamp, or save up for another set of mixing bowls.
If I break my kids’ hearts, it’s going to take more than a few pounds to repair the damage.