Hello. My name is Kim, and I am afraid of taking my kids near water by myself.
I don’t know if in a past life I lost loved ones in a flood or drowning of some sort, or if I witnessed something as a kid that I don’t quite recall…but my ‘water life’ has changed drastically since becoming a Mom.
When I was a kid, I learned to swim in a pond in Massachusetts the Good Old Fashioned Way: I was thrown in and told to swim by the instructor. Obviously, being that I am a living, breathing person and not a swamp creature, I succeeded.
Since then, my mom often referred to me as a fish (since my other childhood family nickname was “Bony Butt”, being called a Fish was definitely a step in the right direction…). I could swim underwater long distances. If there were an ocean, river, lake, pond or deep puddle, I would jump right in and not come out until my parents were about to pull out of the lot in their wood-sticker-sided station wagon.
As an adult, I relished every golf trip Hubby & I took, because while he was hittin’ the links, I was in my SPF 100 poolside.
One of my favorite memories of our Hawaiian honeymoon was simply floating on my back in the salty Pacific Ocean with no place else to be.
Now the mere idea of taking my 2 kids to any sort of watery place makes my stomach tie up in knots. All Worst Case Scenarios rush through my mind like those Driver’s Ed car accident slide shows, but faster, scarier, and starring my two beautiful babies.
Am I fully trained in CPR and First Aid? Yes. Am I fast on my feet? Absolutely. But still…for the past 3 years, I couldn’t imagine enjoying myself one iota at a pool or beach while trying to watch my 2 kids on my own. My feet have not touched water in their presence in 2 years, and even that’s only because we were on a big family vacation and I had 5 extra sets of eyes to watch them. When they outnumber me? Fugeddabouddit.
Now this summer they are 3 & 5 years old. Mr T is a really good listener, like 95% of the time. Miss A? Welllll….yeah. Not so much.
But I decided to try and take them to a pool or beach this summer. I figured I’d go if I had someone to come with me, or do my gym’s pool with one kid while the other was at camp. I’d take my baby steps.
Pretty much all of my friends belong to pools or hit the beach every chance they can, kids in tow. They all joke with me about how I just don’t go. Last summer I didn’t go to the pool at my gym even ONE TIME. It’s a fact that has my friends shaking their heads in disbelief. It’s an ongoing joke with them, wondering if I even own a swimsuit, etc etc. They enjoy it so much; they like to razz me for being so unusually against it.
But alas, my Sister-In-Law is visiting, and the kids have been asking to go, so this morning I posted on Facebook a request for a kid-friendly beach within an hour of me. I got a few replies, and called the friend who posted the first response.
She gave me the lay of the land, advice, and encouragement. She was actually packing to go there today as well, so we made plans to meet up when we got there. So Serendipitous!
In less than 90 minutes later, all six of us were on said beach. It was perfect!
I snapped on Mr T’s swim vest, and he dragged my SIL to the water’s edge for splashing while Miss A and I did some serious sand castle building. My friend chased her 2yo around, and it was a relaxed, nice morning. I was really impressed at how exactly right this beach was for my needs. I decided pretty much right away that I would go back there at least a few times this summer, as long as I had another adult with me so we could tag-team the kids.
Eventually, Miss A & Mr T decided to bury my legs in the sand and talked SIL into taking them for a walk to find the finest seashells on the beach with which to cover me even more. So my friend and I got to talking about this beach.
She opened up the topic of how she wanted to reply right away to my FB beach request, because she knew exactly what I would want and really thought this beach was suitable for me. She knew I had 2 kittle kids who could get distracted or overwhelmed by a boardwalk, and if I went to a huge beach it would be too much for me to shlep all their stuff up and down.
When it comes down to it, what we were talking about is why I like her so much. She understands my lines in the sand, and respects them. She wouldn’t just suggest a beach she liked; that wasn’t what I was asking for. She thought of me, my needs, and came up with a suggestion to fill those needs.
The more we talked about related stuff, the more I couldn’t help but think that this is the basis for what ends up building the bonds of my close girlfriends, versus acquaintances.
There is someone who not too long ago took advantage of me. I thought I was being kind, even when it was just too much for me. When I told a good friend what I was doing, she was abashed and said, “I think we are close, and you should know I would never, ever ask that of you”. In other words, she knows my lines and respects them enough not to ask me to cross them. The funny thing is, if she ever did ask me to do the same thing, I know it would be because of dire circumstances and I would absolutely not hesitate to cross the line (temporarily) for her. Because she respects my boundaries and me.
We all have our boundaries, our limits. I know when I can’t have that one more Martini, because I’ll pay for it the next day. I know I can’t have another kid, because I can’t handle more than the 2 I have. I’ve never tried a single drug, and know I never will because it’s just not my thing. Our limits can and will be different than that of our friends, our loved ones. I have plenty of friends who have different lifestyles, beliefs, habits, parenting styles than me. We still mesh because of a mutual respect of those boundaries and lines. We don’t judge, or make each other feel uncomfortable just because our line is in a different spot that the others’.
I can’t help but smile at how a trip to the beach, my attempt to face one of my fears, became a lesson in appreciating my good friends. This friend I called this morning, who I unfortunately don’t get to see as often as I’d like, knows and respects me well enough to tell me exactly where to go. I went. And she was right.