Since we got back from Florida (I owe you a post about that trip), Jenna has been a swimming fiend.
This is in spite of the fact that, when we left for Florida, she insisted, “I will get in the pool, but I will NOT let my skin touch the water!” We bought her an inflatable raft to float on, just with the hope of getting her IN the pool. We were determined to make the pool seem fun however we could.
For some, unknown reason, I was terrified of swimming as a child. I did NOT want water on my face or to put my head under water. My parents finally insisted on swimming lessons when I was in the 8th grade, and it was a traumatic experience. I had to take them at our local gravel-pit-converted-to-public-swimming-area and THERE WERE FISH IN IT. I was TERRIFIED of fish and other critters in the water (still am *ahem*). I could FEEL little fish brushing against my feet as we stood in the shallows, and I cried. That’s right. CRIED. In a class of me and many very-much-smaller-than-me children, *I* – the big kid – cried. Swimming is still not my favorite thing.
In spite of my determination to not show any of this fear around Jenna, she seemed to be developing the same quirks. She did NOT want water on her face, and NO WAY does she EVER want her head go under the water. We’ve wondered if it’s some innate survival instinct since she has so much trouble with her lungs. Maybe she’s just more fearful about inhaling water because her body knows it would be especially VERY BAD for her poor little lungs. Maybe it’s just a typical kid thing. At any rate, we were hoping to make at least a little progress at the pool in Florida.
Long story short: we ended up in the pool at least two hours every day for two weeks, and she never wanted to get out. The first day, she carefully paddled around on her raft. By day 2, she was bouncing up and down in the shallow end, and by day 3, she was paddling around in the deep end with the aid of her Speedo floaty suit. Awesome.
Since coming home, we got a family membership at our local college’s recreation center with access to the pool, and Jenna and I have been going a LOT (my poor skin). Fast forward to today.
I promised Jenna a trip to the pool this morning. She was INCREDIBLY EXCITED because we hadn’t been there since last Thursday. She was practically bursting with happiness. I pulled on my suit…….and the strap ripped from the back. Ugh. I explained to a bouncy and impatient small girl that I needed to sew the strap because I didn’t have another one. She was visibly irritated, but sighed in resignation. I searched for black thread to match my suit, only to find none (have I mentioned I don’t sew?). Jenna became frantic. I became tense. I finally found some embroidery floss from my cross-stitching days. I thought it might work in a pinch (anyone who sews might know how this ends). I separated one strand and threaded my needle. I made two stitches and the floss basically pulled apart and disintegrated. Jenna was watching all of this with apt attention. I calmly told her we wouldn’t be able to swim today and she dissolved into tears. Not a meltdown/tantrum – that wouldn’t have fazed my mommy heart. These were genuine tears of devastation. A bit melodramatic – yes – but still, I knew she was truly sad, and my mommy heart melted.
What did I do? I whipped out the only thread I have, which is WHITE. Do you know that WHITE is very…. contrasty on an all black suit with all black stitching? Yeah. Do you know that swimsuit strap fabric is very hard to push a needle through? Yeah. While trying to push the needle through, I managed to puncture my thumb and there was much blood. I apparently store a lot of blood in my thumbs. My white thread soon turned dark red in spots.
Anyway, I finished the stitching, donned the suit with one strap sporting contrasty, uneven, & sometimes bloody white stitches, and took a VERY HAPPY & ADORING small girl to the pool. The pool that I don’t even really like, but that I want *her* to like and to not fear. And we had a fantastic time.
All this made me think about how many things we do and how many things we sacrifice as moms. And? That our kids will not ever FULLY realize this until the day that they are parents themselves. I know this because I lived this.
Mom? I love you. For all the stitching you did by hand or machine at the last minute for something you knew mattered so much to us. For all the times you poked your fingers ’til they bled but just kept going. For all of the day-to-day minutia that went largely (or fully) unnoticed but kept us safe and healthy. For all the sacrifices you made for us without ever complaining because you wanted us to be happy and loved.
I love you. And I know now that being a mom means that day-to-day and moment-to-moment you just keep swimming and giving your heart.