Sunday, July 10, 2016

one split second - our nightmare story with water

Just a week ago my best friend and I were discussing the absolute terror that can overwhelm caregivers of little ones.  Many day to day activities can lead you running the ten possible things that could harm your child at any moment, and to say that it isn't exhausting is a lie.
I joke that I get paid to make sure nothing happens to other people's kids, so I'm a little hyper-vigilant when it comes to being aware of possible dangers.  Let's just say a social gathering with several toddlers being semi-supervised by their own parents is not a good place for me.  I'm always stressed, not to mention, I'm also watching my own child making sure that she is free of harm.  And no, I'm not referring to a skinned knee here or there, I'm referring to actual freakin' scary harm to my child.

I've been judged on several occasions that I watch my child too closely.
Okay, let's think on that.
I've been asked why I watch her so closely, and why I don't trust my child?
Umm, okay, let's examine that.
She's three, and when the comment was made to me, she was two.
No, I don't trust her.
She's a toddler.  And I'm her mother.  It's my job to keep her safe.
In our home, she has much more freedom because I can control that environment,
to the best of my ability.
When there is water, or older rowdy children that are known to tip over large pieces of furniture, NO, I'm not going to let my guard down then.
So bring on the mommy judgements.  I can handle it.

Our fourth of July was exactly as it should be.  Except for the one moment that still shakes me.  The one moment I am so thankful that I was exactly where I was, at the exact moment I was there.  And really, it was just pure luck.

Everly started out the summer a little fearful of the water.  We had been making some big gains and she was back to zipping all around the pool in her little Finding Dory tube, just like last year.  She spent hours in the pool on the 4th, and I was by her side for more than half of that time.  The other half was divided by other adults watching her, and me, the crazy mother getting a break from the water by life-guarding my child from outside the pool.  So really, I was just de-pruning, not getting a break.

It was round three, or four, or five in the pool for the day, and Ev and I were both swimming around the pool in our inflatable tubes; she was playing a tag game with her cousins who are a few years older and very capable swimmers.  Earlier in the day I had given her a little more space while in the pool, but this round I was staying close, very close, and this decision literally ended up meaning the difference between calming a scared child, and calling 911.

Everly was swimming fast in her tube, chasing her cousin who had just dove under water, and Everly in her determination to catch her, leapt forward in her tube, falling forward, and completely submerging herself under water.  She was right in front of me, literally inches from me, and all I could see were her legs stretched in a 'y' formation against the tube, only her feet were showing. Without thinking, I lunged forward and grabbed her by the calf, and flung her back up through the tube and out of the water.  It happened in less than two seconds, and I can remember every single part of what happened.  Because sometimes things happen exactly as they should, Everly had just learned how to really hold her breath under water, and because of this, she came up crying, not choking on water.

Never have I been so scared in my life.  Never.  I'm not sure this very scary close call would have gone the same way if anyone else would have been watching her in that moment.  Would they have been as close?  Would they have looked away, or been busy conversing while watching her?  And that is really unbelievably scary.  If I would have been a few feet further away, grabbing her out of the water would not have happened so quickly.  If I would have looked away in the moment, I wouldn't have gotten to her so fast.  Trying to wrap my head around all of this is just too much.

But the thing is, we all have to look away for a second.  We all have to give our children a few extra inches away from us.  We all have to let them play and explore and learn.

The news lately has been filled with some crazy freak accidents involving toddlers, and the shaming that has occurred to those parents is overwhelming.  The unthinkable can happen in a split second. The moment Everly went under I was exactly where I needed to be.  If that had happened in any other moment of the day, I wouldn't have been.  I would have been a few feet away, or sitting outside the pool, or engaged in a conversation for just a moment.  And that's just it, it was just a moment.

That night I cried myself to sleep.  And since, I've had a few times where the attempt to process all of this has just been too much.

As for Everly, she rebounded just fine.  She even went for another swim about an hour later with her daddy.  She let me know that she wasn't going to tip over in her tube this time.  Okay, sounds good kid.  I wish I could be as resilient as a toddler, but I don't think it is part of a mother's DNA [or maybe it really is, it just doesn't feel like it sometimes].  You are always warned that you will never stop worrying about your kids, even when they are adults, but until you are a parent yourself you really just don't understand the magnitude in which this statement is true.


  1. First off (as a mother of four), I know that you can never trust a toddler! You are an amazing mother Lyndsay. Follow your instincts and your heart. You and Michael know your daughter better than anyone else. You will always worry about her. That is part of the parenting process. ♡♡♡

  2. First off (as a mother of four), I know that you can never trust a toddler! You are an amazing mother Lyndsay. Follow your instincts and your heart. You and Michael know your daughter better than anyone else. You will always worry about her. That is part of the parenting process. ♡♡♡