Monday, August 8, 2011

Conquering Fears, Teaching Lessons

We were up by 4:30 AM and loaded in the car for Soph, my 9 year olds, first Triathlon.  She decided to compete a couple of months ago after she got interested in running with her Aunt. Her Aunt just happens to compete in TRI’s and Soph decided she’d like to try it to. She’s been to plenty, as her Dad, Aunt, and Uncle all participate in them, so she knew a little of what to expect.
As it always seems to happen, my children teach me lessons when I least expect them. The blessings they give me are continuous, and this day would prove no different.
First leg of the competition is the swim, 50 meters. Two years ago that swim would have caused me no worries, but that was before the “incident”. Soph was seven and had taken a summer of private swim lessons. She had gone from being afraid of the water to being a fish in the water. Then I put her in a group lesson, so she could be with a friend. She found herself in the deep end of the pool, leg cramp and struggling to keep her head above water. The instructor was unaware, as he was in the shallow end trying to deal with a child that didn’t need to be in that particular class. Someone got to her in a matter of minutes, but by then the fear of the water was back full force.
I watched her wait to enter the pool and I knew this would be her greatest challenge. She had come a long ways, but the fear, it was still there, waiting for the perfect opportunity to take hold. Her first 20 meters were beautiful, she looked strong and then she faltered. She was at the deep end of the pool 5 meters from the wall and she was struggling for breath. She managed to grab the wall and then stopped. Swimmers were catching up with her,tagging the wall and going under the rope to head back for the last 25 meters. The confusion on her face made others think she didn’t know to head back, but her grip on the wall told me otherwise.
I had to crawl on my hands in knees in front of a crowd of spectators to get close enough for her to hear me.
“Soph, you’re doing great. Are you okay?”
When she turned to look at me I knew it was not okay. Her glazed, wide eyed look spoke directly to my momma heart. She was petrified. I watched her frantically look around for a way out.  In that brief instant I thought she was done. I gripped the pebbly surface beneath my fingertips, torn. I wanted to soothe the fear, but I also knew she could do it. We talked it out. I, stretched out as close as I could get to her, offering words of encouragement. Her eyes slowly stopped darting around looking for that escape. “You can do this.” Big brown eyes, stared straight into mine. The glazed looked replaced by determination. In one quick breath she was gone. Head under the rope, up the other side and she was swimming her last 25 meters.
I ran to cheer her on as she got out of the pool and onto her bike. I prayed she was okay. Her steps were quick, but hesitant as she left the water. I told her she was awesome. Her face lit into a smile and she ran to her bike. She flew through the bike course and onto the run. She stopped along the way to offer support to a fellow competitor who was walking. This race was about far more then time for my Soph girl. She finished strong, among loud cheers from her family.
After the race Soph and I were cooling off under a tent when she told me about the water. “I couldn’t catch my breath and I realized I couldn’t stand. I just panicked. Next time I won’t.”
My momma heart soared with pride. She was conquering her fears. She was teaching her momma that no matter how good we get at something the fear is always lurking. And sometimes it takes hold, but that doesn’t mean it has to drag you under. Nope, it just means you hang on, catch your breath, and plunge ahead.
“I think I did good.”
Closing my eyes smiling, “ I think you did awesome.”

Have you conquered any fears recently?


Wendy Paine Miller said...

This is the genuine (and awesome) stuff of parenting. What a moment for you and the whole family!
~ Wendy

Kara said...

It was a great moment! Being a parent is such a blessing, in many more ways then I ever expected.

Pat's Place said...

Cheers to Sophie! She won way more than a medal in that competition--she conquered her fear--something that I did not learn until WAY into adulthood and let lots of adventures pass me by until I learned what she learned last Saturday!! Bravo, Sophie! You will go far, girl!

Janna Qualman said...

Oh, Kara, this moved me to tears. Hurray for Soph! And way to go, Mom. :)

I *have* conquered a fear lately. I took the step that had needed to be taken for quite some time, and because of it I'm on my way to the happiness I deserve.

Nancy said...

I was right there with you and your daughter in the pool. What a wonderful story. Congratulations to Soph and to Momma,too.