I wrote this two years ago……Now I am about to drop my daughter off at kindergarten in three days…….
Holding My Breath – by Diana Waxman Freccia
My three year old daughter has been taking swim lessons this summer. This is an emotionally charged thing for me. My mother was never keen on the water. She gave my brother and me swim lessons at a young age so we would be comfortable in the water, but it was always something I never felt quite confident about. I don’t want my little girl to have the same reservations as I do. She had a tough time separating from me at the beginning to join her instructor in the pool, but magically she has gained a new confidence in a short time. One that makes these lessons worth every penny. I also have learned a lot by watching, and also partaking in one. Her instructor let me join in on a lesson last week because I wanted to learn how I could best support my little fishy in her swimming and in what ways I could maximize my pool time with her in the most beneficial way. Funny to note that all the things I thought were helpful, actually ran contrary to what her teacher ultimately wanted to accomplish. This is why oftentimes, you really need to pay an expert to help you out. Also, my daughter will do with her teacher some things that she will not do with me.
This experience also coincides with the first day of school for so many children around the country. My Facebook news feed is blowing up with photos of first day outfits and parents at bus stop drop offs and car lines. They are also full of parental anxieties and first day jitters of their own. “My baby is growing up!” “How did this happen?” “I just dropped my baby off at college.” These spawn music videos of parents thrilled for the start to school, or articles where parents admonish that there are a limited amount of weekends until my baby girl will put me in a similar position.
As parents there are many times when we have to take a deep breath and hold it in and hope for the best. As parents we do have a biologically demarcated amount of time in which to teach our children and impress upon them the things we deem necessary for them to be able to embark on their own and be successfully functioning members of society. These precious little lives are entrusted to us temporarily. It may only feel like forever, because of the amount of work and laundry that is involved….but the time together is ephemeral. And as they get older, there are more and more demands on their time that will pull them away from us. We are there to catch and release. We held our breath when they were first born, until we heard that first cry.
We held our breath when we had to let go to enable first steps to occur. We bit our tongue as we went from diapers to underwear, hoping that they wouldn’t have any accidents. We held our breath as we dropped them off at school on the first day.
Watching her swim away from me, after I have launched her towards the pool steps, I hold my breath. Not sure if she will sink or swim, ready to jump in at a moment’s notice to try to rescue her, yet knowing full well that I cannot always be there to save her. I need to put my own insecurities and parental anxieties aside and try to take comfort in the fact that I have taught her well, and I have done my best to give her the best. It is up to her now, to sink or swim. I hope she always knows that I am in the pool with her. I have her back.
Sending her off to school… I hold my breath.