Right now I have over ten things on my “to be blogged about list” (not counting BlogHer recaps or regular features), which is odd considering at the first of the year I didn’t have hardly any ideas of things to write about. Some of these things will probably be dated by the time I get around to actually writing about them, but that’s okay because today I want to write about being a mom. Or to be more specific I want to write about the gut wrenching, soul splitting, heart stopping emotions you experience when you’re a mom.
By now a lot of you have probably seen the following video of Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman’s parents. If you haven’t watched go ahead and check it out.
I watched that as it was broadcast the other night. I sat on the edge of the sofa and my heart lurched with hers. Not the gymnast’s, her mother’s. I know that if she could have ran down there and taken all the hard away from her daughter she would have. We all would.
As moms we feel all the emotions of our kids, but in some ways those emotions feel more amplified. The pain is sharper, the fear is stronger, the stress is greater… That’s because we don’t want them to have to feel those things. Even though we know they do. If we could replace the sad with happy, the stress with excitement, the fear with courage, we would do all of that in a heartbeat. Unfortunately that’s just not possible.
This weekend we had a great time at the water park. We were at the end of the day and decided to do one more slide. It was one we hadn’t done yet, and since it has been at least 10 years since I’ve been to this water park, I had no idea what the slide would be like. On most of them we were able to hold hands or lock arms with the kids so that they could go down with us. This gave them a little extra sense of protection. We were not able to do that on the last slide.
David went first (at my suggestion) with the intent of getting to a slow spot and allowing James to catch up so they could go the rest of the way together. James was next, then Cady, and I followed up from behind. It wasn’t long before I had Cady within sight, but before I saw James I heard him. He was terrified and was screaming for help. David had not been able to slow down because this slide was much faster than the others.
As we rounded the bend I yelled at Cady, “CATCH YOUR BROTHER!!!” Because James is lighter it was harder from him to move through some of the sections where the water would pool and twist you around in the current. Oh my girl… as anxious as she was about herself she was not going to let her little brother be afraid. As she passed she latched on to his inner tube and held tight. “I’ve got him Mom!”
I came around the bend and saw them, her holding on and telling him she had him and him in full on panic mode. His eyes were wild and he was screaming, “MOMMA! MOMMA! MOMMA!” My heart lurched and all I wanted to do was stop the slide, stop everything, and just grab him and run. As the current pushed me past my tube turned so that I could not grab him with my hands. I locked both my feet around his tube and started pulling both kids in a train down the slide.
“I’ve got you baby. Just hold on. Momma’s got you.” I looked at Cady. “Cady, swing him around to me so I can catch his arm.” She did it even though she knew she would have to let go and finish on her own.
“MOMMA! MOMMA! MOMMA!”
“James baby, look at Momma. Look at me. I’ve got you. See. I’ve got your arm. I’m not going to let go. I promise.”
“MOMMA! MOMMA! MOMMA!”
“Look at me. Look in my eyes. I’ve got you. Momma’s got you.”
I knew logically that he was safe. He was sitting in an inner tube, with a life jacket on, in water that was only about two feet deep. My heart did not care about any of that. I wanted to stand up and pull him to me and whisper reassurances in his ear that I would never let him go.
The water continued to twist and turn as we whipped down the slide. We came to a lifeguard that was staging people through the next set of slides and turns. “Ma’am, you are going to have to let him go.”
Despite my reassurances, James was still screaming, “MOMMA! MOMMA! MOMMA!” His little fingers dug into my arm when he realized the lifeguard was trying to separate us.
I gripped my baby tighter and never took my eyes from his, “You don’t understand what you’re asking. I CAN’T let go.” Not only was that emotionally true, it was also physically true. It would have taken someone a lot stronger than that young man to pry my hands off of my son. He relented and pushed us down the slide.
“MOMMA! MOMMA! MOMMA!”
“One more slide baby. Look at me. We can do this. Just one more.”
“No more! No more! No more! No more!”
The current turned us and I pushed him down the slide. David was waiting at the bottom. He grabbed James from his tube and held him tight. I flipped out of my tube, caught Cady as she came down the slide, and rushed to James. I ripped him from David’s arms and held him, rocking and crying.
“You are safe baby. Safe. Momma’s got you. I won’t let you go.”
And for as long as I am able, I will not let him go. I will keep him safe. Because that’s what being a mom is. Even when your baby is 18 and performing in the Olympics.