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swimming against the current

Vivi starts swimming lessons next week. We’ve periodically gotten lessons for her over the years because I have an urgent need for my children to know how to swim before kindergarten. The reason for this desire is as of yet unidentified, but when the flood comes, I will be redeemed (that goes for my capri pants too, to all of you geezers who asked me if I was waiting for a flood. Yes I was. But not really.)

The initial swim lessons took place when she was six months old, and I will never forget that first time because I had to drag both a whiny baby and a whiny husband to the rec center pool. With my frizzy hair, pajama pants, and crying duo in tow, I must have been the picture of new motherhood. Do not go up against my determination, readers. It is resolute. I am the crazy, nasty-ass honey badger. You may complain, but I simply don’t care.

Notice how I am really selling it. This WILL be fun!

Looking back, I kind of wonder why I was so insanely admirably purposeful, and I think there were two main reasons. First, I had heard about babies holding their breath under water (remember the Nirvana baby?), and I wanted to discover if it was true. I ultimately didn’t find out because even I, the wild-eyed mother on the brink of insanity who had been living for four months with a colicky baby who cried all the livelong day, could not force myself to plunge my baby under the water.

Also, I had a hunch that since it took twenty times introducing any activity for baby Vivi to like it, swimming would be no different. This guess turned out to be true because that first day, she screamed and cried pretty much the entire lesson. And ever since then, if I go too long between trips to the pool, I endure the same screaming and crying all over again.

Ever the patient mama, I endure the drama because I know how proud she will feel when she finally masters swimming. And there’s a little bit of me who knows she probably inherited this fear from me. Fear of what, I’m not even sure, but I remember it well. Even with lessons at summer camp every year, it took me until I was in high school to feel confident about diving and swimming strokes in front of my peers. I even faked the monthly visitor a time or three to get out of swimming. TMI? Anyway.
Part of me wants to think it could be as simple as some people have a natural love of the water, and others don’t, but anyone who has seen Vivi at the lake or ocean knows this isn’t true.

The girl adores the water; it’s the pool where her issues bubble to the surface.

Mothering two children has taught me my children come on this Earth with a full package, and it’s up to me to decipher it and enjoy the ride. Nothing could provide a better example than swimming, since Charlie took to water like a chubby little fish. She practically flung herself into the ocean the first time she saw it.

Conversely to Vivi, I decided not to give Charlie lessons, figuring I knew enough about it at this point to teach her myself, and it has been so fun. I took her to the pool recently, and she let me lay her on her back, while she lounged as cool as a cucumber, smiling up at the ceiling. On her back! To this day Vivi acts as though you’re trying to drown her if you even suggest she roll over onto her back.

imageAh well, all in good time. That phrase has become my mantra. If I feel myself swimming against the current, I know it’s time to let go of my preconceived notions about how parenthood would or should be and go with the flow. I’m amazed by how true it is; you can try to force your kid into a new milestone, or you can just let it happen. The results will be the same, but your memory of the experience will be completely different.

Today is one of those moments when the patience is paying off. One day Vivi wasn’t interested in dressing herself or jumping off the side of the pool or quitting the thumb-sucking, and today she suddenly is. IN ALL THREE, on the same day. I relished in our hour at the pool together, giggling as she ran-jumped off the side into my arms, while the ladies who aerobicize clucked and cheered from the other side of the pool. Then, as we ate our celebratory post-swim grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, I beamed when she said she wanted to put band-aids on her thumbs to help her quick sucking. Behold the proud mother bear.

And so, I am experiencing one of those times in my life as a parent that everything comes together perfectly. I get to sit back and pretend that I planned it this way. Does this phenomenon ever happen to you? Believe me, it is a rare occasion in my household, and I am grateful…and gloating. What better day to gloat than on the last day of my month of daily blogging? Thanks for reading. I hope you’ll stay with me as I take a day or twelve off from blogging to rest.