Another vacation in the books - our 17th consecutive year at the Jersey Shore with my extended family, a place I grew up going as a child.
Now, my children have their own memories of the places we go and the things we do. From miniature golf to homemade ice cream piled high on sugar cones dripping with sprinkles to rickety rides on the boardwalk, I hope it is a place they will always remember, because I sure do.
I see myself on the beach in front of the Golden Inn with my dad at age four in a saggy blue bathing suit with a white plastic flower on it, riding the waves in his arms. I see myself on 66th Street in Avalon with my best childhood friend Pam, playing tether ball at age seven.
I see us riding to Turtle Cove on our bikes with banana seats and streamers on the handle bars to get penny candy. I see myself as a gangly teenager sitting on the deck of a house on 42nd Street with my friends working out my youthful angst, simultaneously wanting to be cool and also to play in the sand like a child.
I see myself as a college student spending summers working at the T-shirt store and the gelato stand on the boardwalk, dressed like a castoff from a Madonna video. I see myself in the local restaurants, one where I literally dressed as Martha Washington, waitressing crazy shifts in order to make money to take back to school the following fall.
But now I see them ... the young ladies morphed from babies that I used to stroll up and down these sidewalks as I drank coffee when they would wake us early on vacation days. I see the toddlers in the baby pool on my dad's deck wearing large uncomfortable life jackets. I see little girls waving flags feverishly as the July 4th boat parade made its way down the canal.
I see growing girls in matching bathing suit cover-ups, mugging for the camera at miniature golf, with melting ice cream cones and in front of the arcade. Now, I see them - the pre-teen and the teenager on their bikes with their phones and the money I have just handed them stuffed in the back pocket of their jean shorts headed off in the direction of pizza and independence.
It is no longer my Jersey Shore. It now belongs to them ...
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including some on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.