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Swim, Baby, Swim

Swim, Baby, Swim

photo credit: Vegas ER via photopin cc

photo credit: Vegas ER via photopin cc

I vividly recall hiding behind the trees where Bigs couldn’t see me.  Only he wasn’t Bigs at the time. He was Smalls and I was holding Smaller in my arms. We were both attempting to reach a milestone. He was trying to learn to swim (or otherwise known as “Mom forcing the equivalent of waterboarding on her unsuspecting toddler”) and I was clumsily attempting to step back. No one felt good in this situation (except the baby in my arms who thought it was extremely exciting to be hiding in the bushes). I occasionally caught glimpses of the boy, hysterical, and anyone within a mile and a half could’ve heard him sobbing. My heart was doing cannonballs and jackknives into my stomach, only without the satisfying splash–just the free fall.

I remember it taking every ounce of my being to keep from swooping in and carrying him home.  I visualized a gang of invisible mommy warriors, holding my arms as if I were about to start a fight in an alleyway. Cool off, sister, I imagined them saying. So I stepped back, determined to beat down the tears that were wreaking havoc in my throat, and watched as my son battled one of his biggest fears. He couldn’t swim. And not only could he not swim but he feared it as I fear dancing in public or stepping on worms in the rain. I mean, fear with a capital F.

The water was as much the stormy Aegean to this boy as it was a balmy 90 degree private pool.  The beautiful surroundings meant nothing to him other than it was a place where he had no control, no choice and no mother to protect him.  As my child dipped underwater with his teacher time and time again, I could only pray that he would quickly make it through what I knew was one of the hardest things he’d had to tackle in his short life.  Who knew swimming lessons would be so hard? For both of us.

It’s a strange feeling to watch your child as they’re trying to hurdle one of life’s major milestones.  As you sit on the sidelines, your heart and your brain battle back and forth as to how you might react.  On one shoulder, your brain.  The proverbial smartypants.  This is the part of you that keeps you sane yet humble.  It convinces you that you’re doing the right thing by letting your child grow up and fight his own personal battles.  It’s also the part that makes you feel a little stupid for getting emotional at a swimming pool—face first in the bushes, no less.  On the other shoulder, your heart.  That old softie.  Equal parts raw nerves and fierce, mama bear instinct.  The heart is the one that wants to cry for the struggle your child’s going through while at the same time obliterating any animal/vegetable/mineral that makes him suffer.  A very confusing set of shoulders us mothers have.

The music of the swim instructor’s voice was like an undercurrent, slowly swirling around my boy. “I will keep you safe.  I will not let go of you.  Look at me and listen.  I will not let you go.”  While he struggled in the water, crying uncontrollably, he could not hear what she was saying.  He felt like he was sinking.  But she persevered, the music continued.  She finally broke through the fear and helped him understand the importance of listening to the one who was holding him safely in the palms of her hands.

Peter saw Jesus walking on the water.  “Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, ‘Master, save me!’  Jesus didn’t hesitate.  He reached down and grabbed his hand.”  An amazing comfort in the midst of a storm. And He doesn’t even charge in half hour increments.

I recognized that Bigs and his major milestone struggles were only beginning.  Swimming was first.  Elementary school.  Riding the bus, riding a bike. Strengthening his gifts. Accepting his weaknesses.  Saying no.  Saying yes.  Finding his calling.  Finding his soul mate.  What about my own list?

I have my own swim lessons to take right about now. This writing, this soul-baring. The only reason I can pour my heart and soul into it is because He has poured His into me.  I may struggle but I know that I am in the grip of God.

Amazingly, once the boy hit lesson number three, he was swimming. It closely resembled my childhood dog, Murphy, sneaking a dip in the lake, but it was swimming nonetheless.  Instead of tears, pool water streaked his face. A huge step on the road of life’s many, many obstacles.  One milestone down, a million, four hundred to go. He was swimming, baby. I’d like to say that I am, too.






















  1. “And He doesn’t even charge in half hour increments.” – great line. Great read.

  2. “A very confusing set of shoulders us mothers have.” Loved that line. So true. My shoulders were arguing about 90 minutes ago. Heart won this time. Brain gets weary of the battle sometimes.

  3. Oh how many times do I feel without listening?!? I loved this post. Thank you for reminding me what love is capable of…

    (and for the record, my heart still palpitates when I think of my son learning to swim. My face twitches just thinking of what’s to come…I best start listening to the music His voice brings!)

    enjoyed meeting you today! Thank you!
    All for Him with hugs to you,

  4. I loved this post! As a mother with many children who struggle with fear, this was very encouraging! Thanks for linking it up this week!

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