We did swimming lessons for Cruz this summer. These weren’t mommy-and-me lessons; these were sit-by-the-side-of-the-pool-and-play-Candy-Crush-I-mean-CHEER-WILDLY-FOR-YOUR-CHILD kind of swim lessons. Cruz is cautious by nature and not wild about trying new things. So predictably he wasn’t crazy about trying new swimming things, like putting his face in the water, but he also never cried, which landed him smack in the middle of the class (between half-fish and screams-for-thirty-minutes), and left me feeling pretty proud. As much as it was a learning experience for Cruz, it was a growing experience for me. It was the most surreal feeling in the world to walk my babychild to the edge of the pool, and then sit back while he managed the whole lesson on his own.
We were driving home from swim lessons one day, probably on our way to Trader Joe’s, because that always seems to be the case. Cruz was singing along softly to the radio, tan legs swinging from his car seat, hair still damp from the pool. At a stoplight, the song switched to “Oceans” and that song caught me in the heart, like it always does. I looked back at Cruz through the mirror and I suddenly saw that everything we’ve done this summer — swim lessons, the twin bed and new big boy room decor, teaching him how to dress himself, throwing out the pull-ups — all of it was leading to a moment this fall when he would walk through the doors of preschool.
I am so ready for it and so not ready for it.
And it’s so good, this growing older. Today we made mustaches out of playdough and talked about why we need blood inside our bodies. We don’t have to guess at what he needs or how he feels about us (“I love London so much!!”). I just adore his big boy brain and his growing heart and the way he’s gotten so lean that his shorts always threaten to slide off of his skinny bum. But motherhood is the strangest experience in that every gain is also a loss. There is always a sense of putting off the old and taking up the new. I hang up new clothes and put away those that are outgrown. Cruz has gone from bassinet to crib to toddler bed to twin. Bumbo to high chair to just sitting at the table. We mark the changes in his growth with new sippy cups or a bigger car seat, but the boxes of 3 month baby boy onesies in our shed are a silent testament to the fact that I might have a little trouble letting things go.
But starting preschool is the first time a true transition has happened outside of our home, outside of Tovi and me. I find myself wanting to stuff every bit of knowledge into him before school. I give Cruz little pop quizzes throughout the day. “Who can help you if you can’t open your pouch at lunchtime?” “Let’s pretend that you don’t know me. How will you find out my name?” (“Hi, Mommy! What’s your name, Mommy?”) There’s a certain anxiety to it. I find it hard to trust my own parenting sometimes, maybe even to admit to myself that I have done a good job and he is ready.
It all goes back to the song Cruz and I were listening to that morning after swim lessons. My feet may fail… You have never failed me and You won’t start now. The Heavenly Father that orders the universe also watches over sweet little boys on their first of preschool and calms the anxious hearts of mamas. We’re swimming with faith, even in oceans deep.