Sunday, February 5, 2012

guilty as charged

Nightmares are a nightmare. Just before five o'clock this morning I jumped out of bed when I heard crying from Violet's room. When I got to her bed she was still half asleep. She told me she had dreamt that she was "swirling underwater." I have never felt more guilty, oh, except for the last time she had this dream.

It all started over the Christmas holiday. Violet was invited to her third ever birthday party; the first one where I didn't really know the parents. We got the invitation before Christmas, the party was to be held at a local wave pool. Fun, I thought. I promptly accepted the invitation on Violet's behalf.

Violet is not the biggest fan of pools. To be honest, I'm not either so I never pushed the issue with her. We tried swimming lessons once, there were a lot of tears. I couldn't see the point. I love to swim and going to the beach is one of my favourite ways to spend the day, but the combination of freezing cold chlorine water, unflattering Speedos and a general distain for things I am not that good at has kept me out of the pool. Come to think of it, those things have probably kept Violet out of the pool too -- oops.

When I pictured the party in my head, I pictured a swim lesson. Think lifeguard, a little stage to stand on and parents looking on from the comfort and warmth of the pool deck. For that reason, despite the fact that Jeff reminded me to bring a suit, I thought I wouldn't need one. I had emailed the mother of the birthday girl asking if this was a "parents stay" kind of party. I hoped it was, but I don't know the standard operating procedures around these things. My only point of reference is when I was a kid myself -- I don't remember there being parents at birthday parties...

When I stepped into the dressing room before the party I knew I had misstepped. All the other mummies were wearing bathing suits.

It is okay, I said to myself. They won't just let the little kids roam free, that wouldn't be safe...actually, that is exactly what happened. Poor Violet, nervous to begin with, alone in the pool, had to latch on to the other good mums who own one piece bathing suits and would never assume pool parties were just for kids.

I am lucky because one of the mums agreed to watch her, after all Violet can't swim at all. The party was the most nerve wracking 45 minutes of my life. I watched like a hawk as my stomach churned with guilt. I felt betrayed by the other mums -- why didn't someone tell me that mums have to swim at kid parties too? It seems pretty obvious now, but it honestly didn't cross my mind.

Violet's little head dipped under at one point when her friend's mum was tending to her own daughter. It was a nano second but it obviously scared her if it still keeps her up at night.

Hence Violet's nightmare, hence my new nightmare. Instead of laying on the guilt (which I thought was my motherly duty/ right of passage), I am now plagued by it.

My co-worker graciously said that if this is my biggest parenting guffaw of 2012, I'll be doing alright.

I'm still not so sure.

{a happier water related memory}

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