Monday, June 30, 2008

Pushing away thoughts of what could have been

Remember when you were in high school and you were hanging out with your friends and someone asked you what you thought the worst way to die would be? If you and your friends didn't have that conversation, just take a second and think about it. For me, hands down, it would be drowning. So my kids will learn how to swim. There is no question about it. They will not be afraid of the water and they will be strong swimmers. They don't have a choice. Period.

Flash forward to Saturday. We went to the first birthday party for my stepson's cousin. It was a pool party. Last year, Sophia wanted nothing to do with the pool, but this year she is totally in love with swimming. All she wants to do is play in the water. We were all very excited about this party.

The day started out with Sophia playing on the steps of the pool with Jonathan's other little sister, Savannah, who was wearing a learn-to-swim suit similar to this. There was an extra suit, so we put it on Sophia as a precaution. After suiting her up, we said, "Look Sophia, now you can swim." And she dove right into the water. She made it about a foot from me before she turned and grabbed my arm. She was a little concerned and she didn't do it again. She also wanted the suit off.

Fine, no reason for her to have it on, I was standing right next to her.

Several hours later I sat at a table next to the pool with Ryan sleeping peacefully on my lap. He's not much of a cuddler, so I was just enjoying watching my little boy sleep so soundly on my lap. Jon was playing with Sophia in the pool until she decided she didn't want to be in the water any more. She wanted to play with Savannah, who was playing next to the pool.

What happened next nearly changed the course of my entire life. And I didn't see any of it.

My not quite 2-year-old daughter, who is nearly 3-feet-tall and speaking in full sentences, jumped into the deep end of the pool with no apparent reservations. A group of adults where sitting right behind her. As she came up to the surface of the water and began to tread water, one had the wherewithal to ask, "Can she swim?"


One of the women jumped out of her seat, reached into the water and grabbed Sophia and lifted her right out of the water. My husband, who was in the middle of the pool, ran through the water and reached his daughter right as she was being pulled from the water.

I looked up as Sophia was being pulled from the water. She was awake, alert, a little shaken and completely fine. Jon took a hold of Sophia and held on to her tightly, then brought her right back into the water.

Sophia was the talk of the rest of the party. Every one who saw her jump into the water kept commenting on how she jumped in like she knew exactly what she was doing. Even as she surfaced and started treading water, she was never in distress.

Thank God.

On the way home from the party, Jon broke down. He was, and still is, so angry at himself for turning his back on her for that brief moment. I did my best to reassure him that he didn't do anything wrong, she was out of the water playing with the other kids. Everyone was safe and Sophia wasn't scarred from her near-drowning.

The truth is that HE practically ran across the water to get to her. HE held on to her and brought her right back into the water. HE saw her getting pulled from the water.

I didn't. I missed the entire thing. If there was no commotion and if no one saw her jump into the pool, she could have been at the bottom of the pool for who knows how long until I even realized she was missing. And on top of it, I'm not nearly as freaked out by it as I feel like I should be.

My daughter could have died on Saturday, and yet I am strangely disassociated from it. Oddly, I'm even a little proud at how well my almost 2-year-old daughter handled herself in the water. Is that wrong? I've tried not to think about it since, when I do my heart sinks a little bit and I push it from my mind.

I feel like I won the prize for worst mother of the year.


Autumn's Mom said...

ok, you were squeezing tight to my heart strings there. I too didn't want my daughter to ever be in danger in the water so my parents taught her to swim when she was four. I'm so sorry you had that scare. It's probably a good idea that she keep the swim floaty suit on even if she's not playing in the pool, only beside it. We all cope differently to this stuff. Don't beat yourself up about it, just learn and move on :) It's in the past now. And your daughter is here in the present.

Bernadette said...

You are FAR from the worst mom in the world... You and Jon were there WITH her. Accidents happen. (she wasn't the only one that fell in that day) It doesn't make us bad parents. Sophia is so brave! :-) I was actually impressed how calm you were. I think it was better than if you freaking out....Anyway,I'm glad that you guys were there, and I hope that other than the scare--you guys had a good time.

BusyDad said...

There have been a few times in my son's life where disaster was averted. I try not to think of it in terms of "what ifs" - I look at them more like lessons learned, and good luck gained. I could dwell all day on those if I let myself and it does no one (including him) no good. It's hard though, I know!

CelticBuffy said...

We can't have our eyes on them every second. She's fine and you just have to breathe and move on. And sign that baby up for swimming lessons! She sounds like she might take to swimming lessons like a duck to water (bad comparison, I know.)

The Roaming Southerner said...

So glad she is a naturally gifted swimmer. If it makes you feel any better my mom tells the story that she was 8 mo. pregnant with my youngest brother, my other brother was 2 and I was 4. In a split second my brother jumped into the deep (2") kids pool at the same time I jumped into the deep end of the olympic pool.

She lost her mind (she says). Yanked us both out, walked into the office and signed us up for swimming lessons immediately.