Today was the kind of sweltering day that left us two options. Either stay home with the air blasting or head to the pool. We chose the latter. The outdoor pool area is cut-throat. Mothers toting monogrammed towels and beach bags will straight-up check you like it’s the Stanley Cup Finals if it means they’ll get a chair. After four laps around, looking for any open chair available, we found one that was broken and seized it.
The little girls jumped in the pool and we settled in on the side with our feet dangling in. They jumped in and climbed out and jumped in and climbed out and on it went. We had enjoyed the water and the sun for nearly two hours when the life guards cleared the pool. Several times a day, they conduct swimming tests for children, during which kids swim from the shallow end to the deep end. If they make it across without struggle, they receive bracelets indicating they are good enough swimmers to be in the deep end without a parent with them.
During the test, staff pull-out long jump ropes to entertain the kids not old enough or not ready for the swimming test. Our little girls haven’t yet felt like they were good enough swimmers to try, so today when the pool was cleared, we expected them to head over to jump rope. Instead, my littlest little girl called over her shoulder “I’m going to take the test” as she started making her way to the line for the swimming test. Wait what? My husband and I exchanged glances. We’ve only been to the pool a few times this year, the little girls don’t start this summer’s swimming lessons until next week, we surely weren’t expecting this. My husband called after her “it’s okay if you want to go jump rope.” “Nope” she hollered back as she kept walking. My husband started to follow and soon my oldest little girl did too.
My littlest little girl is the brave one. She doesn’t typically shy away from anything. My oldest little girl, on the other hand, gets a bit nervous. She’d already told us she didn’t feel ready to take the test. But she followed my littlest little girl to the line and sat down at the edge of the pool. I watched it all from our broken lawn chair, protecting our turf, and soon enough my littlest little girl jumped in and started swimming. And she KEPT swimming. She did the front crawl, face in the water between breaths, and it started to feel like I was watching an Olympic event. ‘Can she make it?’ I wondered. My husband, who was walking along the side, kept glancing up with a look of “are you seeing this???” She made it all the way across and soon enough, lo and behold, my oldest little girl was jumping in the pool. We watched in awe as she too made her way across.
Within minutes of when they’d walked away, both of my little girls had their “deep end” bracelets, and my husband and I were proud like they’d just one medals. What just happened?!
I’m not necessarily the kind of girl who makes a decision and just does something brave. I’ll ponder, talk about it, weigh the options, talk about it some more, and then maybe…JUST maybe…I’ll do it. I can’t think of many instances in my life in which I stood up, dusted myself off, and went off to do something as big as swimming across the pool was for my littlest little girl today. I need to do more of that.
This morning when I woke up, I hopped onto my phone, and checked all of the things you can check these days. My pending Words with Friends games, my pending Draw Something games, my four email accounts, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, etc. The first thing I saw was a snarky comment on my Facebook. Worse than the comment was that it was from a nice guy I’ve known since high school. My initial reaction was to think ‘ooofff…what did I do wrong? How can I fix this? I bet everyone thinks this exact same thing!’ But after a couple of minutes some friends responded to his comment and I realized that…at the end of the day…umm…I don’t really care what he thinks. I mean…sure it would be great if he hadn’t left the comment but he doesn’t get to affect my day or my mood. And THAT felt completely liberating.
I went on to enjoy our day at the pool. I had one of those really great days with my little girls that I didn’t want to end. The kind that makes me so proud and so happy that I get to be one of their moms. The kind in which I want to squeeze their little bodies in hugs until they force me to let go. Tonight I put them to bed, gave them their kisses, told them what I tell them each night, and came downstairs to write.
What is it about the evening and being alone that makes snarky comments feel so much more powerful and important than they actually are? I sat at my desk and looked around…avoiding eye contact with my computer…and thought about skipping a night. Nobody will notice. Nobody will care.
But then I did something. I thought of my littlest little girl with her goggles firmly in place, adjusting her swimsuit bottom as she marched to the line, and standing and waiting proudly for the big scary swimming test. She didn’t mull it over. She didn’t weigh her options. She just did it.
And I followed suit.
TODAY: What if sometimes I need to be brave and go for it (without over analyzing) even when it’s a teensy bit scary? What if snarky comments are simply that and have no bearing on my world and nothing to do with how I live my life? And just like that…I passed my own version of a big scary swimming test.