Oh my, did I ever miss the memo on the Mommy lifeguard duty part of my job. BIG TIME. Yes, I am speaking of both the literal and metaphoric ways that we are continuously in positions of having to save our children’s lives. I have some mom friends and colleagues who have done that quite literally. I have others whose presence has been life-saving over a longer battle, perhaps with a child’s significant illness. Then there are the daily near-misses: falling off the retaining wall, or the cellar stairs, or the play-scape, or running in front of a bus. Fellow blogger, Randi, has spoken about the terrifying level of responsibility that comes with these little people here. Preach it, Randi!
One common discussion among my peer moms is negotiating the degree of risks and exposure that we should allow our children (as we bite our tongues and practice deep breathing techniques to keep the anxiety at bay). In our house, we allow a lot of latitude. It’s not easy for us, and at times we’re not even convinced that it’s right, but since every kid falls off their bike when the training wheels come off, we don’t work too hard to prevent it. Hopefully, once they see they’ve survived, they’ll get back on it. Oversimplified, sure. Hopeful and naïve, possibly. Since their training wheels are still on, I’ll have to get back to you.
We were blessed recently to spend 6 hours at the beach in great company. Old friends, dear friends, acquaintances and playmates: it was joyous. A storm was moving in, and the tide was moving from low to high, which created a bit of a rough sea for a CT beach. As is typical with the changing of the tides, it got high while the kids were playing in it, so they adjusted as it became rough. As we parents inched closer, the kids remained unaware. Soon, the kids and their little bodies were taking a beating. Suddenly, we are all in the water with our kids, or pulling them out. Mommy Lifeguard on high alert.
My kids love the water and show little fear. Yet, there was one set of waves that both knocked my son over and then kept him down as the set just pummeled him. I got down on all fours next to him and just held his body as the set passed, but didn’t pull him out of the water. When it passed, we got up, I waited, anxiously, to see if his face would be overwhelmed or overjoyed. It was both, but he quickly started telling everyone the story “did you see THAT. Those waves just took me out. They came so fast!” He took a break, wiped out, but also proud.
Then I took my daughter out, and we travelled past the breaking white of the waves. If you love the sea, you know that where the waves break near the shore is the roughest part. Once you travel beyond the rough breaking of the waves, you find a serenity in the sea. For what felt like forever, with my daughter in my arms, we just jumped up and down in the waves, riding them, enjoying them, bobbing in them. When I brought her back to shore, my son, rested and ready for more, asked me to take him out just as far, “where the ocean is peaceful.”
As moms don’t we all aspire to find a balance between Mommy Lifeguard, and helping them navigate their way through life’s waves to peaceful waters?
We just have to make it through all the bumps, waves, fears, falls, and pummeling to get there.