Note: I've been composing blog posts in my head for the past few weeks, but have had no time to write until tonight. Please bear with me while I play catch up!
Over the past six years, I've been mothering my kids to the best of my ability, pouring the talent and hard work I used in school and work into my parenting. But in the end, all the extra work I've done has only added niceties and frills to the essential role of mother I play.
Last week, I met the most basic challenge parents face. Last week, I saved Little I.'s life.
Both of the boys have been taking swimming lessons throughout September. A. goes in the evening, but Little I. takes his lessons two mornings a week. I sit in the roped off parents' area next to the pool, towel and juice box ready, Baby N. in my lap or in the stroller. I try to make conversation with the other mommies and not look bored. I smile when he waves at me.
It was near the end of the lesson, and Little I.'s class was in a part of the pool that is over his head. There is a ledge under the water for the pre-schoolers to stand on and wait their turn as the instructor works with each child individually. Little I. was standing there, waist-deep in water, wiggling and giggling. The instructor turned her back for a moment and Little I. wiggled right off the ledge and into the water.
At first, all I saw were his little eyes poking above the water, looking very surprised. In an instant, he was completely under, arms waving above his head.
She still didn't see him.
I stood up, holding the nursing baby in my arms, and yelled with as much force and projection as my lungs allowed.
"He's underwater! I. IS UNDERWATER!"
The instructor spun, child in her arm, and grabbed my precious boy with her other hand, whooshing him out of the pool. She sat him on the lip of the pool, checking his breathing, asking if he had swallowed water. He shook his head no.
The little trooper had held his breath, just as he's been instructed to do whenever his face was wet.
I sat down, heart racing, breathing in little gasps. Forcing myself to take deep breaths, I tried to calm down. I watched the instructor hold Little I. as he put his face in the water and kicked.
"I must NOT go over there," I thought desperately. "He's okay, and if I go rushing over he will be afraid of the water."
"But I want to hold my baby boy NOW," my entire body answered back.
I held Baby N. I watched Little I. kick his legs in the instructors grasp. I did not move.
Little I. couldn't wait to tell Daddy he "went all the way under water!" The Hubby had to hold me for ten minutes later that night. I was trembling after retelling the story.
I did call the pool the next day and and had a chat with the manager about bringing three-year-olds out that deep without a lifeguard right next to them.
Thank God I was never one to go quiet when frightened.