Yesterday was an exciting day for us: It was my children’s first ever swimming lessons.
This is a big deal because I taught swimming throughout high school, so I have refused to pay anyone else to teach my kids.
It is hard for me to admit that sometimes I’m just not enough for my kids. They want friends, they want space, and it breaks my heart that they don’t just want me.
(But–if we are being honest– I want friends and space sometimes too, which doesn’t seem to bother them at all)
We had a buddy over for most of the day, so we left the house extra early to drop him off and still have plenty of time to get to the pool.
(I was SO proud of myself. I got all three kids–my two plus our friend–dressed, ready and in the car with PLENTY of time)
Now, I was raised to believe that “If you’re not 15 minutes early, you’re 5 minutes late” so punctuality is kinda a big deal for me.
After dropping off our friend I calmly drove to the local pool, raving to my kids about how much fun they were going to have.
But something was weird.
The parking lot was empty.
I knew I was early, but only a little bit, so this wasn’t right.
I looked up the number for the Rec-District and called it. The woman who answered was very kind, but was also very busy. (what with folks showing up for lessons and all). She put me on hold right away, and then again periodically throughout our brief conversation.
She confirmed that I was, in fact, at the wrong pool. I asked her for directions as I sped out of the parking lot, but she had put me on hold again.
So I hung up.
I looked up the address and quickly realized that, in my haste, I was driving in the wrong direction.
Come on, TRINA!
I turned the car in the right direction and began the incredibly irritating process of hitting every red light.
And with each light I got more and more desperate.
My kids are going to be late, I HATE being late. I SHOULDN’T be late, I SHOULD’VE been early. I WAS early, I just wasn’t at the right pool. WHO GOES TO THE WRONG POOL!?!
The dialogue that I was having with myself was both angry and erratic. I got stopped at yet another red light and I yelled out in frustration.
THEY ARE STARTING RIGHT NOW!! I’m still in the car and class is STARTING. (I might as well have been letting the entire world down–because, in my mind, I was failing.)
My son asked me what was wrong and I snapped: “We are late and I’m frustrated” when he probed me further I cut him off and said: “Listen, Momma’s monster is out and I just need a few minutes to focus and breath, please don’t talk to me.”
Both kids quieted down, (they are all too familiar with my monster) and when I coasted to another stop at the next light I mumbled, “I can’t believe I did this”
After only a slight pause–I hear my favorite voice in the world sweetly say:
“It’s ok mom, I forgive you.”
The hush that fell over my soul at that final light was deafening.
My beautiful kids didn’t care that we were going to be a few measly minutes late to their first lesson–they were just excited to go.
They didn’t care that their uber-punctual mom was going to ruin her track record.
They forgave me.
I am blessed.
I managed to park, gather all the towels and kids, and sprint to the pool entrance.
The kind woman, who I had hung-up on before, helped me get the kids to their classes, (which were already in progress), and then she threw her hands up in celebration for me.
“You did it!” she smiled, “You’ve got half an hour, just sit and relax.” (she must be a parent, because she gets me).
I did sit, and it was pure bliss watching my kids enjoy a sport that I have loved for so long. Being late didn’t change that.
My kids taught me a lesson last night–one that I am constantly having to re-learn–don’t let yourself get in the way of your happiness.
I got so caught up in my head: what will people think when I show up late, I did all that work to be on time for nothing, blah blah blah. Those thoughts were meaningless–none of that actually exists.
What was real was the joy on those beautiful faces.
The sound of my daughter squealing, “I’M SO EXCITED” as we ran our late-behinds across the crowded parking-lot.
They were just happy they were FINALLY going to take swimming lessons–they didn’t care that they were the last ones there.
And I almost missed it.
I almost let myself spiral so far into self-loathing that I missed out on truly enjoying their first lessons.
Forget being late, THAT would’ve been the real tragedy.
My son saved me, those simple words, “It’s ok mom, I forgive you” were huge.
He forgave me, so easy, which helped me to forgive myself.
And there it is: forgive yourself.
Forgive yourself and move on, or you might miss the joy.