Perseverance, Bobs, and The Ones Who Took the Call

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:

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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.”

“Hope bobs?”

“Yes ma’am.  Because we were hoping we’d made it.”

Ahhh.

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.”

Oh.  My.

I nodded, not being able to find appropriate words in the moment.

“So we did some more bobs.  We did think bobs.”

“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.

 

 

 

 

It’s a Small World…..Give it Your Best

One thing you do a lot of when you visit the Mouse House and its many parks is walk.  And stand in line.  A lot.

One morning we were trying to fit in as much as we could before “hopping” over to another park where we had plans to eat.  Our older girls, Aub and her friend, were off and running.  They were trying to get in line for the Dwarves’ Mine Train before the line got too long.  They waited only an hour–ONLY.  And unfortunately they really didn’t feel it was worth the wait, like, say Space Mountain was.  Nevertheless they can say they rode it while it was still pretty new.

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The Fella and I wanted to take the littles on “It’s a Small World” ride.  I mean, how could we go all that way and NOT go on that one?  Such a sweet ride, and the sign outside said a 20 or 25 minute wait.  We looked and it seemed to be moving, so we decided to go for it.

We visited and talked and people-watched.  I have to say that my crew were troopers as far as the waiting game went.  Not that they weren’t begging us to fast pass everything and quite excited when we came upon a ride with virtually no line, but yes, they did really well waiting.  As we were about to board one of the little boats, I saw a gentleman who had come in on a wheelchair struggling to get up.  One of the park employees (ummm, “cast members”) went over and offered to assist.  She assured him he could ride in his chair and that she would get him up in the line so he wouldn’t have to wait any longer.  He very kindly waved the thought aside, “No, I want to do this.  I can walk that far.”

Y’all.  Bless him.

Such integrity.  Such willpower.  I don’t know anything else about this man, but I think he’s a good one.  He obviously was struggling to stay on his feet–the wheelchair wasn’t just a cool ride for him–and he was insisting on trying to walk down the dock, so no one else would have to wait to load his chair with him in it.  I wanted to hug him.

Because he gets it.  For as long as he can and as much of the time as he is able, he doesn’t seem to want special favors.

That’s the kind of person who deserves them.  Because he won’t take advantage of the situation.

People who disregard “handicap” parking signs make me crazy.  That’s one of my pet peeves.  Do you have all of your appendages?  Do they work?  Then give thanks and stop trying to take shortcuts.  You are lucky.  LUCKY.  Give thanks, take a deep breath, and park where you’re supposed to.  Some folks have to go through some pretty horrible things to get those permits.  I know I’m fortunate.  It’s not always fun walking in the 107 heat index across a sizzling hot black parking lot to get in and out of somewhere, but I don’t need the space.  And, unfortunately, there is always someone else who does.

I think about that gentleman and wish that I’d pointed him out to my littles.  Not for them to stare, but for them to see someone strong.  Someone trying his best and not making excuses. Someone to respect.

Disabilities are real.  So are physical limitations.  It makes me mad when people try to take advantage of the system.  I have a friend whose physical limitations have prevented him from getting a job.  He has applied for disability benefits but has been told that he doesn’t qualify because he could be an “envelope sealer” or a “nut sorter.” Not joking about those jobs either. They were on the denial letter.  Nuts.  I’ll tell you what’s nuts.  The folks I’ve met who do get disability.  Who can drive all over town and spend hours hanging out with friends, talking, doing crafts, making plans for get togethers, cooking for gatherings.  I’ve even had one person tell me she was going back to school as soon as she gets disability benefits.  I don’t know why she would be approved though.  She seems as capable as I am to hold down a job.  And yet, there are those who cannot work because of health issues or physical limitations who have been denied benefits time after time.

Could it be who your attorney is?  Who you know?  How well you fill out the application?

It must be.  Because nothing else makes sense.  We are paying folks who could at least stand for a few hours as a greeter to stay at home–no, to run around town and visit with friends and family and do just about whatever their finances will allow, while others, who deserve such benefits, are denied over and over again.

*sigh*

I will tell my children about the man rising up out of his wheelchair to walk down the ramp.  I want them to always give something their all–trying their very best in any given situation, no matter how hard.

That’s an important lesson to learn.  And to remember. Ahem.  For all of us.  It is a small world after all, and we need to take care of each other in it.

Love to all.