Home > Family, Health, Parenting > Drowning in shallow water

Drowning in shallow water

Snap. Grumble. Bark. Glare.

It’s moments full of these things I remember as I try to fall asleep each night.

I drift to sleep certain that these moments reveal everything about who I am as a parent.

farmers marketAt my sons’ grandmas’ house today, Great Grandma said she just loved the picture of my older son shopping at the farmer’s market earlier.

“Grandma just cannot speak highly enough of you!” she told me. “How you show him what’s real and important in this world. Not toys, not that he doesn’t have those, but what really counts.”

I never know quite what to say to compliments, so I murmured something unintelligible and waited for her to continue.

“And those pictures of you guys with your faces painted last week? What a hoot! Anthony tells me folks were giving you mean looks, but I know you and you didn’t care a bit.”

I laughed. “True. But you know what was funny? For all the people at Disneyland who gave me ‘come on, now’ stares, the ladies in the Whole Foods bathroom were in love with my pirate face. Who’d have thought?”

A couple hours earlier, I’d watched my son’s head disappear just beneath the water at a friend’s home swimming pool. I leaped in when he failed to surface, his hands waving slowly instead of in the melodramatic, thrashing way of film.

“You just had to put your feet down!” his dad said as I pushed him further into the shallow side. And it was true: he just had to stop panicking long enough to try something different.

I didn’t realize until then that I, too, have been drowning in shallow water, sinking because I was too focused on my submerged face to consider all the possibilities for pushing myself, gasping, out of the water.

My husband’s recent job change has given me a welcome chance to reassess … everything.

All the choices I now see before me were ones I had before. There’s no part of my situation that was ever all or nothing. It only felt that way because I was too focused on thrashing for air to take in anything else.

And all those nights I fell asleep believing I was defined as a mother by all the moments I’d snapped and grumbled? They were parts of the struggle to just find my way back to air.

Here, from the surface, I see how much more there is–farmers market trips and shared face paintings, for starters–and I smile.

Next time I start to feel like I’m drowning, I hope I’ll test for land first.

pirate spidey

  1. August 10, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    Love it. And, independent as you are, perhaps remember that the love that others have for you, is a pretty impressive life-jacket when the water is just a little too deep.

    • August 11, 2014 at 4:23 am

      Oh! I was in the middle of typing out a long comment on my phone when it got munched. Short form: Thank you for this lovely, powerful reminder. You are so right in all of it.

  2. August 10, 2014 at 10:42 pm

    I love this SO VERY MUCH! I’ve often used this’d analogy and said when you’re drowning in a puddle, stand up!!! But I still forget to put my feet down and stand up myself some days! This was beautiful! Thank you!

    • August 11, 2014 at 4:28 am

      I’d heard it before, but I don’t think I really got it until yesterday! With that visual in mind, I have a couple of great reminders–first, to put me feet down if I feel my face falling under, and second, that the fact land is just below someone doesn’t mean they won’t drown. I would like that second bit to help me be better reaching our to others, so I can help try to pull them up if they can’t feel the ground beneath them. Thank you. ♥

      • August 11, 2014 at 12:40 pm

        Those are absolutely beautiful reminders and lessons…hard to accept that second one sometimes but like you said, hopefully you can use it to reach out to others before they drown. They have to choose to stand up though…that’s the hard part! ❤

  3. August 11, 2014 at 5:55 am

    Love EC’s comment. There it is. Love is all around; you’re seeing to that. Savor the moments and don’t deny yourself safety. This was beautifully written.

  4. August 11, 2014 at 6:48 am

    That’s some great face paint, Deborah!

    This is a bit of a tangent, but bear with me for a second . . . I heard a story of a man who jumped from a bridge, intending suicide – and lived. In the moment that he jumped, he realized that EVERYTHING that was wrong with his life could be fixed – every single item, save for the fact that he just jumped. I just wish there were a way that it’s easy enough to assess what’s going on about me without something so drastic – because, yeah, that “drowning in shallow water?” I fear that might be me from time to time.

  5. August 11, 2014 at 7:51 am

    Great post!

  6. August 11, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    This was so well put. I so often feel, as a parent, that I’m defined by the bad moments and overlook the good. What a great reminder that we are a whole, not just some of our parts.

  7. August 11, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    Love it! Just the other day I was able to state that I was feeling stress because the day wasn’t going as I had planned and scheduled, that I had a very specific vision and that vision wasn’t happening.
    Once I realized that, it was like I had put my feet down and my face left the shallows! I was able to tell Mr. T “I’m sorry, this day isn’t going like I had planned and I’m struggling to adjust right now”.
    Happy to hear I’m not the only one!

  8. August 12, 2014 at 3:18 am

    It is these days where we get tested, we grumble and grouch forgetting for a minute we can stop handstanding and do it another way. Our lessons, they come from out of the blue sometimes.

    Drama is a wonderful thing, facepainting….yeah you all.

  9. August 12, 2014 at 4:41 am

    This is a beautiful post. Sometimes the changes we need to make to better our situation are so simple that we don’t comprehend them because we are so used to making things complex.

  10. August 12, 2014 at 8:42 am

    Lovely, Deb.

  11. August 12, 2014 at 11:12 am

    Deb, that falling asleep mantra sounds a lot like me! Accepting my imperfections as a parent has been a tough one for me. I have been listening to a wise lady on YouTube (and books on tape) lately. Her name is Brene Brown and she addresses some of these issues with quite a bit of insight and encouragement. I hope you’ll check her out when you have time. (Hopefully I haven’t already passed the info on to you… if this is a repeat, sorry!)

    Take care!

  12. August 12, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    Unfortunately it’s all too easy to thrash—and to focus on the moments we’re not so proud of. I’m with you there. Lately the downs throw me off completely, even if I’d been having a good day up to that point. That’s all to say, I feel you, sister.

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