Being Strong

When my children are upset I don’t always find it easy to stay strong.

This morning my oldest was extremely anxious about school swim class. She’s only been at school a term and this was to be her second swim lesson. She normally loves the water and we visit the local pool at least once a week. Swimming is one of her favourite ways to relax and let off pent up energy.

However, her anxiety about school swimming stemmed from many things – the bus journey, over-crowded changing rooms, not being free to dive to the bottom in the deeper pool and many other random feelings of frustration and a reaction to change. In addition, her school swim class happens to be at the same time as my other daughter’s weekly swim class. Obviously, me being in the pool vicinity adds an extra dimension; naturally, she’d rather play with her Mum and little sis than swim ‘on mass’ in over-crowded conditions.

So… this morning she was upset and threw her swim bag in a corner of the house saying she wished there weren’t swim classes at school and if only things could go back to how they were last term. I felt her frustrations deeply and could really sympathize. A big part of me wanted to keep her with me at the pool and enjoy our usual fun; but I was also conscious that she needed to be a part of her school group and adapt to all that it brings.

I arrived at school close to the bell and Charli was happy to be there. I didn’t mention swimming but placed her bag by her locker. Then it happened… a couple of parents asked how I was, Charli’s teacher asked how Charli was (she was absent yesterday due to stomach cramps… another story all together!)… and then from no where I burst into tears (who’s the child now!). Granted, I’m hormonal at the moment, but really, this is no excuse! I’m supposed to be the strong, responsible parent. I’m supposed to be a role-model to my children.

Anyway, Charli’s amazing teacher took me to a quiet corner and gave me a huge hug. I was so embarrassed, but also felt a huge sense of relief. She listened to me and came up with solutions. She articulated Charli’s personality perfectly. She understood and was quick to work with me to make things work in a way that would be amicable to everyone.

Meanwhile, Sophie was amazing and after we left the classroom said, ‘It’s okay Mummy, you know, I cry too sometimes. Just take deep breaths.’ She gave me such a hug of strength which filled me with awe of her wisdom beyond her years and made me want to sob more!

I’m supposed to be the ever-strong parent, providing support and guidance – not crumbling to pieces! Though, to give myself a break, I do believe in showing my feelings – to an extent – if I was always ‘Mary Poppins’ perfect that wouldn’t give a realistic portrayal of life (would it?). And if I can show it’s okay to show my feelings, and apologize when I over-react then I’m also ‘teaching’ how to say sorry and that we are not always perfect and it’s okay to make mistakes from time to time. Then again, perhaps I have a mental health problem!

All this aside, Sophie was definitely the better role model this morning!

Oh to be an ever ‘together’ sort of person – but I wonder do they ever really exist or are some people just a whole lot better than me at hiding their wobbly days! And do the apparently every-calm individuals ever feel the incredible highs that I frequently feel from nature and my surrounds?

Thanks for listening!

P.S. In the end, swimming was fine! After Charli’s class instead of playing in the Spray Pool she decided to get dressed whilst the changing rooms were quiet – clever girl! She then sat happily on pool side and I told her how very proud of her I was (and we chuckled at how ‘silly’ Mummy had been earlier in the day – but, as I told her, it’s only because I love her so much and want her to be happy more than anything else).