I took this picture today as a reminder to myself that sometimes we need to take the long way around. As much as I wish I had control over circumstances as a mom, most of the time, I am just along for the ride offering a little guidance and exercising buckets of patience.
My youngest daughter is 3.5 years old. Anyone who has spent significant time with a 3 year old knows about their fierce need to make their own choices and do things their own way (in my way experience, the threeanger year is a real thing).
We have been doing swimming lessons on Saturdays and it is new for her to swim in the water with a teacher instead of her mom or dad. After a very patient teacher and enticing pool toys, she has made her way in the water after a few minutes each class. Until last class. Out of nowhere she decided she hated swimming and clung to me the entire 30 minutes (and then burst into tears when the lesson ended and she hadn’t had a chance to get into the water).
This Saturday I was hoping things would go better. We had a pep talk in the car and she was excited. We get to the pool and as the class starts she starts to cling again. As frustrated as I am, I have to stop myself and think-why are we doing this?
And the answer comes to me, to help her get comfortable in a swimming class, to gain confidence in herself. We aren’t looking for an Olympic athlete. With this new perspective I sit close to the water and let her cling to be.
Gradually I feel her arms loosen off my neck. We watch the other kids play and have fun. She inches closer.
She plays with a watering can by the edge. Then all of a sudden she looks back and me and then looks at the pool. I extend my hand and she steps in. With a huge smile she joins in the class, practicing floats with the teacher, singing songs, and playing with the other kids
I could have pushed her to get in the water and fought with her. I could have just given up and said forget the lessons, gone home. But when I took a minute to think, I knew if I just gave her some space, some security, and let her do things in her way she’d come around with her big smile and full of confidence.
Parenting is not easy. We have to keep these little humans alive and make all kinds of decisions even before having a cup of coffee. So on days when I make a good choice and we have a win, one has to take a minute to celebrate.