Letting go, but not giving up

A Happy Moment in the Pool

I want what probably every mom wants for her children… I want them to grow up happy and healthy and to be involved in activities and to make friends and have play dates.  Often, usually when things are “going well” around here I get a little too ambitious and I have this odeous habit of comparing my family to other families.  That is so wrong on so many levels its a post of its own.  But still, I do.  So, we made it through the crazy busy-ness of the holidays and into serious winter with gobs of snow and ice everywhere and the unending subfreezing temperatures and I had just about had e-nough of my children bobbing up and down indoors with excess energy.  I swore to DH, “we are getting them into an activity no matter what!”.  Swimming is actually a big wintertime activity here in the Midwest becuase almost all the pools are indoors.  Swim Teams are all over the place up here.  This, I thought, would be perfect.  Besides, all of their cousins swim like fish, its beyond time the mons-ners had some lessons and soccer doesn’t start up for another 6 weeks.  (See that comparison there?  Keep your eye on that one.)  Ok, got everyone signed up and we were ready to rock the pool!  ::::deep breath here::::  Not sure if you’ve ever had to bring 3 children (1 special needs, 1 toddler)  in from the snow to a pool, get them in swimsuits, showered and down to different classes, but its a j-o-b.  I was determined!!  I am a Fierce Mom!  I’m doing it!!  Ok, sweaty (me) and half naked children running around the (wrong) locker room, but eventually we made it to the classes.  45-minutes later and they were done except for one little thing.  M just hated his class.  Sobbing with tears running down his face when I picked him up by the pool, I was pretty sure there was no way I was going to get him in the pool again even with my magical special needs parenting skills.  Fastforward to class number 2 pretty much the same….. and the sobs.  At class number 3 we found the correct locker room!  Woot!  Still with the sobs.  Today was class number 4.  More sobs.  I was sitting in the gallery watching my littles swim around and two of them are giggling and splashing like little maniacs and M, long, slim and lanky, wailed as his swim teacher pulled him towards the deep end of the pool.  I went into “mom-mode” you know, where you can hear your children’s individual voice even in a sea of others?  I heard the crying, the pleaing, the call for me.  My eyes watered and my fingernails dug into the thighs of my jeans.  I willed myself not to look too closely at him, not to catch his eye because it would just make the situation worse.  I tried to take deep breaths and keep my composure.  There were other families from our community and school all around us and I didn’t want to be the “freaked out mom” in the swim gallery.  I know when to push M and when to let him slide.  DH and I discussed the lessons at length before signing the kids up and we knew that it would be hard for M, just the setting of it, the noise and echoes in the pool are stressful for him.  We both agreed that swimming was not optional, its a safety issue as our home is walking distance to Lake Michigan.  As soon the children learn how to swim, reasonably well on their own, they don’t have to take lessons anymore unless they would like to join the swim team.  Until then, its lessons every session.  We made it through the sobbing session in the deep end of the pool and bless the swim instructor he had M giggling before it was over with and eventually back in a more reasonably shallow depth.  I was sad.  I was really really sad that even swimming lessons would be so hard for M to get through and as I was beginning to wallow in my self-pity with my sweet mons-ners not being the little fish that their cousins were DH simply looked up from his laptop (working from the pool!) and said, “You realize he didn’t get out of the pool.  He didn’t even ask to get out of the pool.  He stayed.  He is trying.  With all the noise and the over-stimulation and the constant movement of people and water, he stuck it out”.  Instantly I could not have been more proud.  He did, didn’t he?!  That boy.  That sweet, quirky, overly energetic boy is learning to self-regulate.  Its painful to watch.  Like fingernail marks painful to watch, but he’s getting it.  Just this past week he was up in the middle of the night doing his homework because it was unfinished after a long day of school and social communication therapy and you know, most ASD children don’t like to leave something unfinished, its like a lighted beacon until the action is complete.  He can remove himself from loud situations at school on his own.  He can move himself to a corner to complete his work, on his own, so that he is not so easily distracted.  He is getting there and I think he will get these swimming lessons done as well.  Its me that needs to change, not him.  He’s battling uphill though loud echoes and water.  I need to reevaluate my expectations and timetable.  He will probably take this particular class again while his brother moves on and you know what, that is ok.  As long as he makes progress and eventually gets those important skills, that is all that matters.  We’re not in a race and there is not a finish line.




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