Here she is. My eldest. Refusing to look at me as I encourage her to put the book down and get back in the ocean. The ocean with yes, fish. The fish she fishes for. The fish she eats. The fish she sees at the aquarium. The fish she has become suddenly fearful from touching her.
I get it. It’s unusual. It’s unique. But it’s not a reason to sit on the sidelines.
So, I push.
No treats the rest of the day unless you get back in.
You don’t have to go for long, but you have to get back in.
Tears. Exasperation. Begging.
In she goes.
You can’t see me having fun, she says.
Oh, but I can. For the next five hours straight. FIVE HOURS in the ocean.
No one prepares you for that in parenting. When to push, when to hold.
My husband didn’t want to make a fuss, but I wanted to make a point.
Our fears are not the end.
Yes, we must listen, but we also must know when to overcome.
And boy, did she overcome.
In spite of my insecurity – was I being too hard?- I realized, yes, I listened to my instinct and momma knows best.
I sat on the side of my bed, sobbing. Begging my husband to get the baby to move, knowing I had waited one day too long to induce.
See, the day before had been my daughter’s spring concert and I figured delaying a day wouldn’t make much difference.
But in this moment, I regretted it all.
In a panic, I called our doula and midwife first and next, our neighbor.
She arrived within seconds. I folded into her arms, scared of what we would find when we arrived. She steadied me, reassuring that our three daughters at home were safe and off we went to find that baby Elizabeth was indeed alive and well.
Fast forward 18 months.
Same kitchen, same neighbor.
Our friends left and she stayed to ask the simple direct question: “Are you OK?”
No, I wasn’t and all it took was for someone to ask.
I unfolded right in front of her, releasing the floodgates and once again, she took it. She held it. She steadied, reassured and stood me upright.
She looked me in the eye and said, “You are going to be OK.” And then she followed through.
She called to check on me. She invited me to run with her.