It’s that time of year: That last stretch of summer vacation where the kids, while not sick of each other, are sick of their routine. Two more weeks till school starts equals, if I’m not on my toes, two weeks of “I’m boooored.”
So, we went ice skating yesterday. I learned to ice skate when I was 7. My husband: not an ice skater. The kids and I have gone skating several times during the school year; our 7-year-old daughter really takes well to it. Our son, at 5, is a bit unsteady, and requests my assistance on the ice (read: skating behind him while he leans all 40 pounds of himself on me; I now have very strong legs and am very aware of my center of gravity).
We went on a weekend (the busiest, most expensive time) in order to allow Dad to watch his daughter skate. And skate she did, for just over an hour. Our son lasted about a half hour, at which point he joined Dad on the sidelines and inhaled a snack.
I enjoyed helping our son skate–but I have to admit, it was really quite something to hold our daughter’s hand and circle the rink, show each other our moves, dodge other skaters and avoid falling. When it’s just me with both kids, I don’t have a chance to do that. She said at the end, “I only fell twice!” We high-fived.
I felt like a “good mom.” The kind who teaches and has fun and is supportive and grants independence. Mostly though, I just felt like me, comfortable and at ease.
Then, there’s me in the pool. Much of the summer has been spent in our pool. The pool is Dad’s domain. He taught the children to swim, surface dive, and otherwise be fearless. While he’s at work, I have been the self-appointed safety patrol. “No running! No hands on another’s head or face! No jumping from the side! Now, go have fun!”
I’m not a good swimmer. Or rather, I don’t believe I’m a good swimmer. On our honeymoon, I told my husband as much, as we sat poolside and contemplated a snorkeling adventure in the Atlantic Ocean. Then he saw me in the pool. “You can swim! You swim just fine.”
I just don’t believe I do. So with the kids, I’ve been a spectator or supervisor, rarely a swimmer and playmate. I know enough to save them if need be, but I don’t feel I can play the way their Dad can. I mean, they grab hold of his shoulders and ride on his back as he dives under water. That terrifies me, irrationally, but terrifies me nonetheless.
But this past Friday, in the incredible heat we enjoy here in August, the kids got in the pool after I had finished my in-home exercise routine. I was very hot and my muscles ached and that water looked so inviting. The kids looked so happy. So I grabbed some goggles and approached the pool.
The kids exclaimed “MOMMY!” as if they had won the lottery. I jumped in, and assumed the role of Tick-Tock Croc (from “Jake and the Neverland Pirates,” thank you Disney) and chased them, my fingers “chomping” on their limbs as they swam by. It was beyond fun. I wish I had an underwater camera for all the times we ducked under and waved at each other… or when I’d “scare” them and make them dart away.
I finally felt at ease in the water. I can understand why in one sense: The kids are both now excellent swimmers, and I no longer cycle through visions of their accidental drownings due to my weakness in the water.
But I think mostly, my desire to have fun and simply be with the kids finally outweighed my fear. I wanted to swim, so I did. The kids could tell. And we had a blast.
I love it when I finally figure things out. It’s refreshing.