Friday, July 28, 2017

Swim Mom Stretch Marks

Her first heat was called for first call. **did not hear it**
Her first heat was called for second call.  **heard it and began climbing over other people in a crowded gym**
We get to the swimmers line up area.  **her event is not lined there.**
Asking people who seem to be ignoring me, where they are.  **finally get an answer and they are at the pool.**
Get to the pool at the exact moment she is supposed to be on the block.  **rush to get her on and ready for the start**
Buzzer goes off and in she goes. 

That was my first experience as a swim mom at a swim meet.  There is NOTHING in the world that prepared me for this moment of launch.  

18 months ago we made the decision to put Sophie into private swim lessons.  She started swim lessons as an infant.  She took classes off and on until one day my husband and I realized that this was simply not working.  We sat down and looked at all the programs offered and we finally realized that our best value and best shot at getting our daughter to OUR goal was to spring for private lessons. Now, keep in mind, OUR goal for her was simply survival.  If she fell in we wanted her to know how to swim. Simple as that.

There are some stinkers in the world of swimming.  Teachers that do it simply for a job and not because they love it.  I actually prayed that Sophie would be given the perfect teacher.  Not a good teacher or a great teacher, but the teacher that is perfect for HER and that is what we received when Teresa swam into our lives!

Teresa is/was an amazing ally in this endeavor because we were not sure what to expect.  She became more than a simple swim instructor.  She helped Sophie understand the mechanics of swimming and worked with her on building her confidence in the water.  She helped us, as parents, achieve a level of patience with the process.  Some things she could learn, others she would have to figure out on her own.  She helped us, as a family, find and set goals and work towards them.  She became a life coach in a sense.

She worked with Sophie and set goals that were ideal for her and that she could achieve.  First goal, water slide/yellow band.  She hit that goal and after that was a thing I knew we were green band and discussing what next.  It seemed unreal we were "done."

We kept her in swim lessons to build on her skills and then in December at her yearly check up we realized she was small for her size.  Not sure what to do here, we once again discussed it and decided that perhaps swimming may help her build some muscle that would help here.  It seemed to be a more healthy approach than simply over feeding.

Once again, we had another discussion with Teresa and Sophie and decided that we would set a goal for swim team.  In a matter of 2 weeks she was in a 10 week program called Mini Barracudas.  This program gave a sample of swim life for kids and families while helping them refine some of the skills she already had.  In addition to the coaching, she would get to experience a swim meet and the feel of the chaos and competition.

I thought this was a great deal! My only concern was the competition.  How would she handle it?  How would I handle it? As a mom the last thing you want to do is terrify your child or put them into a situation that just doesn't suit them.  This competition thing was an unknown and something I could not prepare her for.  I just had to see what happened.

Well, you already know those first chaotic moments from the perspective of the frantic mother.  Sophie's experience was something totally different.  In the midst of my internal freak out, she jumped right into that pool and swam to the end, hopped out and was a calm as I have ever seen her. Her first words to me, "That was fun, when do I go again?"

And she did go again.

This time instead of a rush, we had a little delay.  For me, that meant time to have another internal freak out.  I wondered what she was thinking and how she was internalizing this room full of people watching her.  I wondered if she was fearful of what she may not have noticed before.  I wondered if she was worried about how she would finish.  I wondered so much in a few seconds that I finally stopped when I looked up and I saw this......

**No words necessary**

When you are pregnant, and, ahem...sometimes are blessed with these things called stretch marks.  They can be dainty little steaks or in my case it can look like a 18 wheeler rolled over you and then went in reverse to make sure the job was done right!

While stretch marks appear to have simply popped up overnight they actually took some time.  Just when your skin stretches from carrying this baby to the point where it is unimaginable that it can stretch anymore, it does.  When it does it leaves a scar.  Many of us view these scars as embarrassing. While others of us see that our body did something extraordinary and view them as a badge of honor.

What on earth does this have to do with my kid swimming?  A lot actually!

I realized that stretch marks happen beyond the birth of the child, though they are not visible.  We parents are blessed with the burden of emotional stretch marks.  While on this journey we prepare our kids and selves for a moment or a rite of passage and we are stretching and growing.  However, when the time comes, and we launch our kids into that moment, we have to let go. When we finally let go of our grip we find that we are left with a little stretch mark on our heart and soul.

From there, we hold our breath and pray that we did it all right and that our kids are going to swim and not sink.

As I write this we are preparing for the last meet of the summer season for Sophie's summer team. We started this journey to simply give our daughter some basic survival skills.  From there she worked hard, set her own goals, remained coach-able and gave all she had in the moment--She LOVES this sport.  18 months from the start of this journey she was asked to swim in the champ meet medley relay for the 8 and unders. It seems unreal and it is something that I never anticipated or planned on. We are now well on our way with this new journey and I am still gaining stretch marks in this experience. I still (and always will) hold my breath from the moment she jumps in until the moment she jumps out.  But I am glad that I let her jump!

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