Eli was about 20 months. Old enough to be walking and talking well – ok, better than most his age.
We were hanging at Aunt Jody and Uncle Greg’s cottage in Michigan for a little 4th of July fun and frivolity, which always comes with a dip or 7 in the lake.
Eli was having a blast running through the water between mommy and Nana when the wake of a small speed boat took him under.
He was in the water for seconds before Nana snatched him up and he was safe in mommy’s arms. While he wasn’t physically injured, the damage was done. Being in the water hasn’t been the same for him since.
Every summer since then we have worked and worked to get him back in the water. He started to wade into the lake up to his knees as long as he was wearing a life jacket. We got stuck there for quite some time. And because we live in Ohio, there are limited opportunities to get into the water in all months other than June, July and August.
Eli’s fantastic therapist recommended a group therapy that involved time in a pool. Not just any pool. This pool is heated and has an adjustable floor. So, she could make the water shallow for those kids that couldn’t take the deeper and gradually work them up to more water. It sounded fabulous.
At first, Eli hated it. He was angry that he couldn’t wear his life jacket. He was mad that Dr. Maureen kept trying to get him wet. He huddled in the corner and wouldn’t move unless made to – and even then, not without a fight.
Slowly over the course of the past year that has all changed. He started laying on his belly in the lake this summer. He was in the shallowest of waters, but he was laying down. He started putting his head under water in the pool and in the bathtub at home. It was awesome!
Pair this with Keegan. The younger brother with NO fear of water. This kid had a fear of anything that was planked wood (decks, playground equipment, etc.) because he could see the ground underneath and was terrified he would fall through. But let me tell you, that did NOT stop this kid from blowing full force down the planked wood dock at the lake and jumping into the water. Thank GOD for life jackets!
We made a decision long ago that we wanted to do swimming lessons for the boys so that Eli could gain more confidence and Keegan could gain some skills to keep himself afloat. Keegan started trying to swim on his own this summer so we knew it was time. Eli was gaining so much more confidence in the water that we felt confident for him too.
We came upon a great opportunity to put the boys into a class that is only 1/2 hour a day, 3 days a week for 2 weeks. There are 2 instructors and a maximum of 4 students. It sounded perfect, and it has been.
We have been fortunate in that there has only been 1 other child besides Eli and Keegan in this group. That child has skills slightly better than Keegan. So, Keegan and this little boy have been paired up with an instructor and Eli has had one all to himself.
Tonight I watched my boys with a full heart and a tear in my eye. They have one more class left in this cycle. I couldn’t be more proud of the progress that they’ve made.
Keegan swam several feet from the wall to the instructor. He put his face in the water and turned his head to the side to breathe, just like he’s been taught. He is beginning to move his arms and legs together more in sync. He’s so excited to have “created” a backwards streamline (basically a back float with his arms up over his head). The boy is swimming and it’s amazing!
Eli has spent much of the last week+ huddling in the corner. His instructors have been patient with him and have worked to move him away from the wall. Today he was so proud because he used a kick board to swim from one side of the pool to the other. Again came the tears. The fact that HE wanted to do this and came out of the pool so excited about it was heartwarming.
I can’t even begin to put into words all of the emotions I was feeling today. Each time I feel this way I remember my mom saying “you’ll understand when you’re a mom”. This is it. This is that feeling that made my mom scared if I stayed out too late or filled with pride at each volleyball match. It’s that feeling I felt when I held each of my babies for the first time or looked into their beautiful eyes or smelled their baby soft skin. It’s that feeling that says you’re not a mom because that’s what women do, you’re a mom because you were meant to be. And yes, sometimes being a mom just plain sucks. But, in times like these, it’s easy to see just how much the good outweighs the bad.