Maren is having her first experience with being on a swim team. She had her first “race” this week. As she in the youngest class of swimmers, there are older swimmers in the water to help her (them) along if necessary. The man sounds the horn, and all the 6-and-unders line up. None of them are brave enough to get up on the starting blocks, and they all look simply adorable in their mini team suits and their goggles. Maren jumped in from the side of the pool (next to the block), and swam her very best free-style (with a fair amount of doggie paddle) down the length of the pool. When she finished, she climbed out, received a lollipop and a rainbow participation ribbon for her efforts. I greeted her at the end of the lane ready to congratulate her on her first 25 meter swim. She spots me, and rushes over as she clutches her candy and ribbon. As she reaches me, she immediately bursts into tears.
“Mom!” she said through her sobs, “That was so HARD. I didn’t fink I was going to finish it.”
“Maren, you did it, I’m so proud of you. That was awesome. You were awesome.”
She looked at me through her tears; she was choking on her emotion. “But it was so hard.”
I’ll never forget that face; she was so indignant that it has been so taxing. It wasn’t exactly fun in the way that she is used to having fun. I grinned at her, squeezed her tight, and said, “But you did it, sweet girl. You. Did. It.”
Ten minutes later, she was all smiles and showing off her ribbon. She’s still unsure about whether she liked it, but she is, most definitely, proud of herself. And that is a Mommy Moment that keeps bringing tears to my eyes when I think about it.
I was an athlete and I remember that vivid point-of-exhaustion that Maren hit on Tuesday night. Lips are blue, legs are shakey, heart is bursting, lungs are burning. Maren is right, that feeling does make some part of me want to burst into tears. But, once the shakiness passes, in comes that feeling of accomplishment. It’s the one that says,
I did it. I am strong. I am proud of myself. That was hard, and I rocked it.
It’s not a first oft-written in the baby book, is it? The first I-can-do-more-than-I-thought-I-could. The first I-am-stronger-than-I-realize. The first I-conquered-something-hard. But I’m writing this one down for my Maren. I feel myself bursting with pride in her achievement, and I feel the ache that she’s growing up so fast.
baby girl big girl. I love to watch you swim.