Like many parents, I enrolled my girls in swim lessons when they were small. C, fearless and ready to leap, took to the water like a fish. Her younger sister, however, walked without gills, feared the vulnerability, and hated the feel of water on her face. Lacking success in large group lessons, I found a private instructor experienced with sensory sensitive children like mine. Week after week, I sat on the deck of the large swimming pool as A cautiously dipped a toe in the water before sitting down to dangle her legs in the water. Apprehensively, she’d slowly slide her body into the pool and into the waiting arms of her teacher.
In the beginning, she looked so tiny in that sea of water. Dozens of children paddling about created waves that splashed up in her face, causing her to cough and flounder in fear. She often struggled against the hands of her swim teacher, flailing to get away and reach the wall. Sitting by the pool, I quietly winced in my seat when she began to panic. As a mother, my first instinct was to jump in and save her, not that she really needed saving, but I sat there, smiling and waving in reassurance. It never took long for her to settle down, find her confidence, and follow the direction of her teacher. With arms madly hitting at the water, desperation in her eyes, A would focus on the soothing voice of her teacher’s reminder, “Just breathe. Take a deep breath, roll over on your back and float. Trust me, you won’t sink. Just breathe, in and out, in and out.”
Those words, I’ve often been reminded, work on land, too.
Since NaNoBloMo ended last November, I’ve made and broken several commitments with myself to resume a regular writing routine. In December, my days were filled with the usual holiday preparations, my older daughter came home for winter break, and I came down with a nasty bug. Still, blogging ideas rolled around in my head. “When I feel better…,” I told myself.
January and February flew by. With C back at school, I focused my efforts on readying myself and our home for the New Year (I tend to do a physical and mental “spring cleaning” in January), our homeschooling routine, and the planning and preparations for our family European vacation. “When my schedule settles down, I’ll start writing again,” I promised myself.
In the meantime though, my fingers tapped awkwardly on the keyboard and I floundered a bit, but I stuck a toe in the water and wrote one post during February.
March was consumed with Europe. Delightfully so! Last minute details filled the beginning of the month before we departed for 16 days in London and Paris. “I’ll write while sitting along the banks of the Seine,” I thought. “I’ll type away in the shadow of the Tower of London,” I mused. Neither happened. Ideas flooded the corners of my mind and my keyboard sat idle. “I’ll write when I get home,” I resolved.
I’ve been home for 3 weeks now. Life has settled down– a bit, and my mind is replete with blogging ideas. Armed with the thoughtful encouragement of an old friend who just found my blog, I sat down to write over the weekend. Like my little, future swimmer with flailing arms, my heart raced with doubts, fear, and vulnerability as I tried to formulate words into sentences. My fingers tapped out ideas and, just as quickly, held down the delete key. As the sun began to set for the final time last weekend, I felt like I was slipping under the water. I was drowning… Or so I thought.
I sat and I stared at the blinking cursor on my computer and, spontaneously, I pictured the peace on my little A’s face when she remembered to breathe. Arms and legs too tired to take another stroke, she’d roll on her back, take a deep breath, and float in the midst of the waves splashing against her face and the cacophony of a public pool.
I’ve written this blog since the start of 2011 and somewhere, in the last 4 months, I began to doubt my abilities. Though I didn’t fall off the proverbial horse, I stayed away from the stables so long I thought I forgot how to ride or, in this case, write. I also forgot the first step in writing, as in life, is breathing. Haven’t we all done that at some point? Forgotten to breathe?
Life isn’t about avoiding falls or water on your face. It’s about getting back in the water, taking a deep breath, and trying again. And, sometimes, it’s about floating until you can swim, again.