My heart was so full this week... and it was over the smallest thing!
Warning: Proud Mama moment ahead!
My 4-year-old daughter started swimming lessons for the first time in early Spring. After the first couple classes, she began saying that she doesn't want to go back, because she can't "do bubbles" and she doesn't like the water going into her eyes.
I always knew her dislike for water in her eyes from bathtime, but after our vacation to Trinidad earlier this year, I thought she could handle swimming lessons, because she really enjoyed the water at the beaches and pools.
We practised bubbles at home (sitting together on the kitchen floor with a big basin of water!) and it helped her feel more comfortable with that part. The eyes were still an issue though... she didn't even want to try at home. For the next few classes she was under pressure, which I didn't like. I felt that her first experience of swimming classes should be a fun one, not dreaded. I spoke to her instructor, and told her not to keep pushing the "eye" part... just let her enjoy the water for the rest of the classes.
Fast forward to this week: Our first week of Summer swim classes. On the very first day, I told her new instructor about her "issue", and she was understanding. Before class, her brother and I told her that she will know when she is ready and comfortable to put her face in the water... and not to worry about it, just enjoy her class. To our surprise, on the morning of day 2, she told us that she thinks she is ready to try! We still told her that if the moment comes, and she's not ready, don't worry.
So picture this, they're both in the pool (my 7-year-old son is with his own instructor, starting a new level himself), and I'm watching from the viewing area. And then it happened! It was her turn, and I saw her nod "yes" to her teacher, take a deep breath, and dip her head all the way into the water! My emotions took over! I jumped out of my seat and began waving like a crazy lady. I was so proud of her! She overcame her fear all on her own. That's my brave, strong girl!
Just when I thought things couldn't get any better, I look over to my son, and I saw that he was getting out of the pool with his instructor with a big smile on his face. Where were they going? Well, for the first time ever, he went into the "deep end" by himself, without any floats, pool noodles or life vests... and he did GREAT! By this time, I was so excited, I left the viewing area and was now poolside to get a front-row seat. He was able to jump in and doggie paddle himself up and to the wall on his own... plus he did the diving board unassisted, twice, for fun. Needless to say, I was smiling with all of my teeth!
When class was over, they were both feeling terrific about themselves, and that made my heart explode. I was the proudest mama in the world at that moment.
Now I know what you're thinking... putting your face in the water and going into the deep end are really not that big of a deal... everybody does it. Most kids we know are actually younger and at higher swimming levels. But for us that day, these were big accomplishments. Getting over fears and diving into uncharted waters (literally!).
I let them know multiple times that day how proud I was of them, and that I will always be there to cheer them on with all of their challenges in life... one little step at a time.