I haven’t been able to share publicly an incident that happened to Molly my 3 & 1/2-year-old daughter a few weeks ago. Maybe because I am ashamed of myself as a mother. Maybe because if I put it out there for the world to see, they will think badly of me. Maybe because I feel that if I don’t make it public it will be easier to pretend it never happened. Honestly, the whole episode couldn’t have lasted more than 15-20 seconds, but I cannot shake it. It’s like a continuous looped replay in my mind that is a slow motion blurred nightmare. Anytime I think about it or talk about it, tears fill my eyes or I completely break down. But after running into a friend (who’s a damn good mother by the way) a few days ago and hearing that it happened to her with her 4-year-old just days after my nightmare, I knew that I had to share it.
It was a hot summer day and we did what most families do, packed up our bags and headed to a family members pool. It was awesome because they were on vacation so we had the whole place to ourselves. All day long Molly kept saying she wanted to try swimming without her swimmies. By the end of last summer she had really started to get the hang of it. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a chance to get to swim over the winter months so she is a little rusty. In other words, swimmies are a must. I told her repeatedly, once we were all in the pool she could practice for a bit. We got to the house and Matt (my husband) headed upstairs to get some towels. I took the girls outside to the backyard. They were ready to go! Suits on, swimmies in hand, and overheated from the climbing temperature. I paused for a moment at the fire pit because I wanted to surprise them with s’mores later on. As I stood with my back to the pool which was about 20 yards away. I heard a splash. I thought to myself, Oh boy, Buddy (the families Golden Retrieve who was infamous for jumping in the pool on hot days) is excited to swim too! But then my mind snapped. Buddy had sadly passed away last month! That splash had to be one of the girls. I turned to see Maddy my 2-year-old standing on the deck, pointing and yelling. And then I saw Molly in the center of the pool flailing. She was keeping her head above water but she had a fear in her eyes that put me into a state of shock. I raced through the grass and threw myself over the side of the pool. Screaming over and over again “Mommy’s coming Molly!” “You’re Ok!” as I swam as fast as I possibly could. I reached her, thank God before she went fully under. I don’t know who was holding who tighter! I tried to not let her see how panicked I was. I tried not to yell at her. I tried to keep myself together as best as I possibly could under the circumstances. I tried by I was failing at all of these things as my body succumbed to the enormous state of shock that my mind was experiencing. Matt came out of the house holding the towels with a puzzled look on his face as he observed the scene in front of him. Maddy on the deck of the pool yelling “Bad Choice Sissy!” Molly clinging to me, shaking in fear. Her arms wrapped around my neck so tight I thought I would pass out but I never wanted her to let go. And me in the pool with all of my stuff still on frozen. I asked why he didn’t come running out when he heard me screaming. But it was obvious to me before he said a word that he hadn’t heard and was clueless. Wow! If I had still been in the house, just a couple more steps away. I would never have heard that splash. That splash echos loudly in my ears to this day, but at the time it could never have been loud enough to hear if I wasn’t in the yard. I replay it constantly in my mind. What would have happened? Would Maddy have tried to jump in to save her sister, putting herself in danger too? Would Molly have been able to keep herself up any longer? What would my life have become if true tragedy had struck us that day? How would I live with myself if something happened? How will I live with myself just letting this happen? I am struggling. Every day I am struggling to keep my mind from drowning in the possibilities and fears.
It wasn’t till my friend shared her horror story with me that I felt like I could breathe a little bit more. She, like I said, is a damn good mom! She is someone I look up to. And it happened to her. Two moms drowning in fear of what could have happened to their babies. Two moms in the same week, getting a wake up call that will never let them feel completely at ease on those hot summer days at the pool. But two moms who in their still fresh sense of shock, were able to share a bond that they are not alone. It’s okay to feel panic. It’s okay to be scared. It’s okay to feel like we are the ones drowning. Our kids are back in the pool. They are kids. They are able to float, while we sink in our own mommy pool of self-doubt and fear. They are the lucky ones not the victims. We became each others life vest as we shared our stories with tears streaming down our faces in the middle of a busy restaurant, dressed as cows. (that is a story for another day! HaHa!) Of course I would never want my friend or any mother to feel this way, it was nice to not be alone drowning in this “pool of emotions”. Our husbands don’t get it because they weren’t there. They didn’t see their babies struggle. They didn’t see their wives fight the heavy weight of the water as they rushed to reach them. I cling to the fact that someone I admire as a person and a mother, could be my life vest when I desperately needed it.
So why write this? Why do I feel like it’s okay now to share what I feel is something that could label me as an absent-minded mother? Why? Because I know I’m not! I am a damn good mother! Some may even say I am a “helicopter mother”. I’m the mom at the park that is right by my kids making sure they know that I am there to help them. I don’t hold them back. I let them climb. I let them jump. I even let them make their own “bad choices”. But I also let them know that I am right there. Within reach. Ready to save the day when things go wrong. Sure maybe that hot summer day, I was a bit distracted. I would never have imagined my daughter would think she could jump into a pool and swim. But isn’t that motherhood? They never do what we think they are going to do. I think they actually enjoy going left when we think they are going to make a right. Like they thrive to keep us on our toes and test us to see just how fast we will come to their rescue. Regardless if its, hitting their sister, saying a naughty word, or for some reason thinking they are a mermaid all the sudden. You just never know what to expect by each passing second. That, is why I am writing this. It happened to me. It happened to my friend. It could happen to you! Always stay completely alert when you are by a pool or body of water. We can get so easily distracted as moms. On our phone, socializing, thinking about dinner, if we have enough toilet paper, how long we can sneak away to Target for, just in our own thoughts. That splash was definitely a wake up call for this mama! I will forever be changed over one little splash. A splash that washes over me like a title wave. A splash that echos in my ears down to the pit of my very soul. But a splash that gave me the speed and strength to feel those little arms wrap around my neck. You can judge me all you want. I am glad that I have two beautiful blessings to be judged about. And if this helps just one more mama who may have dealt with this themselves. Or prevents someone from dealing with it. Then I will take any kind of criticism that is splashed my way.
I’m sorry if this seemed to ramble on. I haven’t blogged in so long and I am a bit rusty. But, boy it feels good to finally get it out of my head! Now it’s time for me to hit the hay! I have an important hot summer day of swimming with my two beautiful daughters awaiting me tomorrow. I am terrified and excited!