Are you a swimmer?
Are your kids?
I can't even remember how young I was when I learned how to swim...it was back in the 70's when your dad threw you in the pool and gulping water you learned to tread water and eventually how to make it to the side. Over time, you dared your friends to see how long you could hold your breath bobbing along the surface desperately hoping that you would hear them pop up first gasping for air.
Later, I learned basic strokes and spent some embarrassing time in middle school with my best friend in synchronized swimming lessons...the coolest part of that deal was the PA system in the water.
On the flip side, my husband has been a fish his whole life. Swimming from the time he was little eventually competitively and then life guarding for five billion moons before becoming a dad.
So, when it came time for the kids to learn how to swim, he threw them in and then told them that they would all have a stint on the swim team. Sam abhored it. Much to his chagrin, the coaches not only make you swim until your arms fall off, but they also make you run prior and do push-ups after. So after one season, his response was, to hell with that.
This year, Kate was old enough to give it a go. And she fell in love with the water.
Definitively not the fastest or the strongest...but what she lacks in speed, she makes up for in heart. She's like the little Rudy of the group resolute on taking the Elementary Backstroke as far as it and she can go.
Last night was their last practice and she was in Heaven. They spent the whole time racing each other. We watched her keep going and going and going, never giving up, seemingly tired, but continuing to kick her legs and pull her arms through the water.
And when she finished, I said, "Kate, you were amazing...I'm so proud of you. I have no idea how you kept going and going even when you were wiped out."
To which she said, "It's just what we do, mama, we're the swim team."
While she was showering, I couldn't get it out of my head..."It's just what we do." She's decided that she's a swimmer. No bother how fast or how slow. She has a responsibility to do her best for herself and the team and so she shows up and she does her thing.
I have this nasty habit of second guessing my legitimacy when I feel like I've fallen off the wagon...with, well, really any component of my life. When I'm impatient and yelling at my kids too frequently, I fear that I'm not a good mother. When I don't reach out or follow-up with friends in a meaningful way, I worry that my relationships may be in need of repair. When I'm not running decent distances with consistency, I don't feel like I have the right to call myself a runner. And when I'm writing spottily, well, you get where I'm going.
Not Kate. She's a swimmer and a member of the team. Period.
So many beautiful lessons learned watching a sweet little girl with Pippy Long Stocking braids, glitter goggles and a big heart go to town on the back stroke...