usually i am right next to my kids, walking and talking with them. but this summer, i have been able to watch them from a distance a little more – and they amaze me.
last summer they both wore life jackets EVERY TIME we hit the pool. now they both swim like fish (or a mermaid in the case of my daughter). this week, they were each practicing flips in six foot water, my son was cannon-balling off the diving board and my daughter was swimming across the width of the deep end – and she did it easily. she bobbed and flipped between front crawl and backstroke, taking her time and enjoying the water. my heart swelled with pride.
i have to stand back, and not cling too tightly. they are ready to do it alone. i am not quite ready for it, but i won’t hold them back. i watch them move through the water with such happiness and grace. and while they are good swimmers, they are also new swimmers. they aren’t aware of all the things can happen. true to my motherly duties, i watch around them constantly and keep them in spots where they can have fun and be safe.
the process of teaching a child to swim is in stark contrast to my old work life with deliverables and deadlines. you cannot rush any child to swim, or put him on any kind of deadline. you can offer lessons, expose them to water, make them feel safe, and make the time fun. and based on how frequently you do this, your child may or may not swim in the next ten years. it can be a long road, or a shorter one. it all depends on the kid, and you.
nobody tells you this out of the gate, but most aspects of parenting are like this: a very long road. there can be so much day to day minutiae, especially as they get bigger and more autonomous, that you forget to just look at them and take it all in.
i don’t get sentimental very often. yet this summer, more than ever before, i am aware that they are becoming big kids and we are sliding into the sweet spot. my baby turns 5 and starts kindergarten next week. the minutiae is in high gear with birthday events and school coming, piled on top of the end of summer activities. even though i still need to get a lot done to be ready for each event, i will find a way to actually take it all in – by their side and from a distance. i don’t want to miss a thing.