Thank goodness for swimming lessons! I really didn’t understand what all the fuss was about, but I booked Little Birdie (LB) into swimming lessons because it seemed like the right thing to do. Little did I know what a gem I would find.
Some of the other mums at mother’s group have been very proactive about booking their babies into swimming lessons but I felt a bit intimidated. I hoped there would be a little group who may decide to book in at the same place and time but it wasn’t the case. Finally, with the start of the term approaching, I brought myself to make a booking at the pool up the road. It was a bit of a gamble leaving the booking so late (I actually booked the morning the new term started). I’m not sure why I couldn’t bring myself to book, I kept making the excuse I was too busy. However, in hindsight, I think I was nervous about taking LB.
I love to swim. I really do. However, I don’t swim very often. I have had two stints in my life when I have regularly swum laps and both times have been when I’ve had access to a nice, cosy, quiet heated pool. In fact, one of those stints was just last year when I started swimming in the pool at the school where I worked. I injured my hip when I was pregnant and swimming was about the only exercise I could do and it made me feel great. The best part about it, though, was the company. I only ever swim with a friend or two in tow; I’ve just always been a bit of a nervous nelly about the whole thing. Also, I hate the cold. I really hate that moment when the cold water hits your belly as you enter the pool. Then there’s the whole wearing a bathing suit in public issue …
So, I had quietly worked myself into a tither by the time our first lesson came around on Monday. However, in usual fashion, I ‘white knuckled’ it. I had to just not let my fears take over for LB’s sake, because, after all, the lessons were about her, not me. The day had not started well, I took LB for a walk before her first nap and then she didn’t sleep well. I refused to let that stop us, though.
The first thing that struck me, as we got dressed to go to our lesson, was how exceptionally cute LB looked in her little pink frilly swimsuit. Before we left for the lesson, I took a moment to take some photos on my phone and send them to the grandmas and her aunty. Next, I was pleasantly surprised to see that we had somehow made it to the pool on time. The staff there were also exceptionally welcoming and I was impressed to see that the pool complex had had a major facelift since my last visit. There was now an indoor pool and this was where I had booked the lessons.
The next pleasant surprise was how warm the water was. As I walked down the stairs into the pool, I wasn’t uncomfortable at all. I was also relieved by LB’s reaction. Prior to sleep school, LB tended to react very badly to new experiences, but with more sleep she is a lot calmer. She looked to me for reassurance and I gave her a big smile and told her the pool was like a big “splish-splash bath”. After an initial shock at getting her face wet and an incident swallowing a bit of pool water, she was at home. The lesson went exceptionally well and I was sad when it drew to an end. They offered us the opportunity to stay in the pool after the lesson, but I knew LB needed to go home for a feed and a nap.
LB was exhausted by the time we got home and fell asleep while feeding, which was a disaster, because she generally won’t go into the cot if this happens. I usually follow a ‘feed, play, sleep’ routine, but the swimming lessons mean I have to keep her up a bit too long and sneak an extra feed in before she goes down for her afternoon nap. It was a pretty messy afternoon with lots of crying around the afternoon nap but I still felt on top of the world. Our first swimming lesson together was a precious experience and I felt so grateful. I even mooted the idea that we take our babies for a swim together one Friday to my mother’s group.
The second lesson today was even better than the first. LB was a lot more confident and the other two parents in the class were lovely and their children delightful. The instructor was supportive and the lesson had a good balance of fun and safety. In time, I’m confident that LB will be able to save herself from drowning if the need arose, which is really the point of the whole exercise. We don’t have a pool, but our neighbours on both sides do. In addition, there are so many other developmental aspects to the lessons that make them really worthwhile. I was also pleasantly surprised to learn that LB is a bit of a natural paddler and kicker, which should help her in the future.
Once again, motherhood has made me overcome my petty anxieties and fears and try something new. I’m so proud of LB and her efforts at swimming lessons. Now, instead of dreading getting into the pool, I am looking forward to my next opportunity to spend time with my little bathing beauty.