It’s been almost a year since I stared disappointment in the face, since our Princess found out that she wasn’t being invited to try out for the swim team. That was one of those defining moments for me as a parent, and it broke my heart.
What a difference a year makes. She and Cooter took lessons at the beginning of June this year. Once again, our girl was disappointed not to be selected, but she bore it well. She knew she had another round of classes, and she set her mind to just keep trying.
For the past two weeks she has done just that.
She has gotten stronger in her strokes, and her endurance is better. She can go the whole length of the pool without me having to will her there. (Okay, that’s what it felt like people.) Her backstroke is beautiful to behold. She set her mind to it, and today, this happened:
Oh, the excitement! The sheer joy in that sweet face. In the words of our Princess, “It made the past two years all worth it.” Yes baby, it did.
It’s funny her take on it. Last night she had written herself a note on a Wesleyan College (her future alma mater, she insists) sticky pad. It said, “Last day! :) Make it BIG.” I was overjoyed to see her cheering herself on–thinking positively.
“Mama, you know that note I wrote myself?” I nodded from the driver’s seat as we pulled away this morning. “Yeah, well I think it was good luck. I’m glad I wrote it.”
Ahem. How far do you let this go? Me? Not far apparently.
“Well baby, I’m glad you wrote yourself that note, and I’m so happy you have been invited to try out, but all of that happened because of your hard work. You set your mind to it and you practiced. You got stronger, and you listened to your instructor’s directions. You did well, and you earned this.”
“Yes ma’am.” She paused. Okay, good, she’s hearing me. “But imagine if I hadn’t written it.”
Oh my. *sigh*
I’m proud of her. I’m proud of her for applying herself and for her determination, but what I’m most proud of her for are the bobs.
She and another girl who was also hopeful about meeting the requirements had just completed the swim back from the other end of the pool. She told me they did their bobs while waiting for the other two students to swim back. (Bobs–they duck their heads under the water while holding their breath and blowing air out of their noses.)
“But these weren’t ordinary bobs, Mama. They were special. They were hope bobs.”
“Yes ma’am. Because we were hoping we’d made it.”
Then the third girl made her way back. Only she wasn’t able to swim the whole way without stopping. By the time she reached the end where Princess was, the little girl was in tears…..”because she was sad she wasn’t going to make it. It was her Mama’s dream for her to be on the swim team.”
I nodded, not being able to find appropriate words in the moment.
“So we did some more bobs. We did think bobs.”
“So we could think of how we could cheer her up. Then we told her she did a good job, and that if she didn’t make it, she could try again.”
That. That right there. That’s why I’m proud of my sweet girl today. She has such a precious heart that sometimes it overwhelms me. Imagine what life would be like if more of us took the time to do “think bobs” and “hope bobs.” Beautiful.
As we were leaving the pool today, bubbly and excited with more than one of us beaming from ear to ear, we talked about the day–our Princess’ exciting news and how Cooter had learned to dive into the deep end of the pool. (And he is phenomenal diver–he literally takes my breath away each time he goes.) I asked Princess if there was anyone she’d like to share the news with. She called Mess Cat, Leroy, and my Aunt. Each time her joy was new and fresh, and I wanted to cry. I am so thankful that she has people she wants to share it with (all of the requests were her own), and I am even more thankful that they took the call and celebrated with her. Tears welled up in my eyes as I thought about the ones she couldn’t call, but whom I’m sure were celebrating her stick-to-itiveness right along with the rest of us.
And I thought about the words I’ve heard so often through the years.
The Lord gives and the Lord taketh away.
That’s from the Good Book, from the book of Job. If ever a fellow lived that, it was he. He had a time of it. And I reckon that in the past four three years I’ve felt more compassion for him that I ever did before.
But today…..today I decided the order of that was all wrong. (No offense intended to the biblical scholars in our midst.)
Today it felt more like “The Lord taketh away, and the Lord gives.”
Because in the midst of missing my Mama and my Daddy and all the others whom we’ve loved and who have journeyed beyond the veil, there has never been a moment when someone didn’t step in and love on me, on us. Not replacing them, mind you, but sharing light and love and lifting our spirits just when we needed it the most. Like today.
My parents are no longer here where we can see them, but when I look around with eyes that will see and listen with ears that will hear and I-get-myself-off-my-pity-pot, I am in awe of the gifts we have been given in those who stand beside us, with us. Those who curl up next to us when we are too tired to go on. Who wait patiently and encourage and love and…..
it’s almost too much to wrap my brain around.
Life is good.
My children have had the privilege of learning to be safe in the water. They have learned a lot, including the important lesson that hard work can eventually pay off. And they’ve learned that people and their feelings and relationships are the most important aspects of our being. I am fortunate beyond comprehension to have the people in my life that I do who love on my babies–all of them–as though they were their own. Because they are their own. We belong to each other in this life, and that is a sweet, precious thing.
I’m off to do some gratitude bobs. Because tonight my heart is full to bustin’.
Love to all.