Today I took my daughter swimming. Well actually it wasn't exactly swimming and I didn't actually take her myself, but that's the rough description. My husband is now home. He got back from Latvia yesterday afternoon just in time for Edie's Tuesday 'swimming' lesson. She's only 2 years old, so swimming is quite an exaggerated word for what she does, but she can jump into the pool on her own, hold her breath under the water, come up for air, turn around and splash and splutter her way to the side, cling on, clamber along the edge and climb out at the steps, so in an emergency I think she'd be ok. But I do find myself watching from the side and sometimes wondering whether it's all worth it - and whether maybe we should just wait until she's a little older and strong enough to swim properly. But then I think that there are two reasons why it's all worth it. The first is that her elder sister also started 'swimming' when she was little (they both started at 4 months) and now at 4 years old she is fantastic. Of course there are days when I sit on the side of the pool, chatting with other mothers, and when they ask 'which one is yours?', I am almost tempted to say 'that one there, the one who looks like she's drowning', but of course I don't because that wouldn't be fair, although one would be forgiven for thinking that she was drowning. She's not actually drowning, she's just sinking as she tries to take in air. She needs to work on her position a little bit more. But, on the plus side, she doesn't need arm bands and she recently got her 50m badge and for a 4 year old I would say that is pretty good going.
But the other reason why I think it's all worth it is a purely selfish one. It cheers me up. That's the bottom line. I can enter the swimming pool in the foulest of moods (which admittedly is very rare seeing as I'm normally quite a cheery soul), but for argument's sake, the foulest of moods, and I will always leave with a smile on my face. No matter what. There's just something about watching those little faces laughing and giggling and enjoying themselves that is totally contageous, especially if they are your little ones. I think it's something to do with watching them find their way in the world and witnessing their struggle and finally seeing them succeed. There's an enormous amount of pride, (and sometimes embarrassment too - especially when it's your child who's the class clown). I have been known to have hysterics at the side of the pool - I think it was nervous laughter than got out of control. Something to do with Edie pulling another child's hair and then throwing a tantrum when she was told off.
And it got me thinking about how much we love our children and how blinkered some of us are when it comes to them. I recently completed a '25 Random Facts' about myself and posted it on Facebook so my friends could read it. Later that day I was chatting to a friend on the phone and we were discussing my number 25 which went something like this, 'I sometimes look at my children and think that they're the most beautiful creatures on this planet, but really I know that they're quite ordinary looking' and she was totally aghast that I could say they were ordinary looking. Of course, to me, they're not ordinary looking, but that's because they're mine and if I didn't think they were the most beautiful things I'd ever seen then I wouldn't be so protective of them and my maternal instincts wouldn't be so strong. But I try to be realistic about them. In a crowd of 30 children no one who wasn't their Mother or Father would point to them and say that they were the most beautiful children there. I would, but I've already explained why. But my friend (who also has two children of similar ages) said that she genuinely does think that her children are the most beautiful creatures she's ever seen. Does that make her maternal instincts stronger than mine, or am I just a bad mother? I know what she'd say. She'd probably say that her children were better looking than mine and that was all. But I'm not so sure. I have another few examples here. Childbirth for instance. It's a well known fact that you're supposed to forget the pain of childbirth as soon as you are holding your precious bundle in your arms. Why on earth would we ever choose to go through it all again if we remembered the pain? Despite the fact that you've gone through hours and hours of torturous labour, the moment the baby is born none of it matters because love is the painkiller you need to see you through childbirth. No one, including my own Mother, could tell me that childbirth was bad. She actually remembered it as quite enjoyable. Well, I can tell you this. I will NEVER forget the pain of childbirth. I can still remember it in every excrutiating detail, and in fact I might even write a blog about it one day. And as far as thinking that my precious little bundle was the most beautiful thing on this planet, of course I didn't. Her nose was squashed, she was covered in slime and her head was a funny cone shape because of the ventouse used to suck her out. She looked like she'd been in a car crash. I may even have said, 'Well you're not a looker, but I still love you'. And I did. I felt an overwhelming rush of love for her (and I even cried when she had her first injection because her pain was my pain), but I just couldn't be so blinkered to think that she was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. I don't think that makes me a bad Mother, just a realistic one.
So those are my thoughts for the day. I'm now off out to take both my children to the hairdressers. The youngest one is going to have her hair cut for the very first time and as a mark of the occasion I'm taking a camera to record the very special moment. And not because I think she's the most beautiful creature I've ever seen, but because I took photos of her sister's first haircut and I am nothing, if not fair.
And just as a post script, I did get pregnant again, but I spent nine months absolutely petrified of the impending childbirth and didn't enjoy my pregnancy at all.
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