A few days ago I promised my children I would take them swimming. I used to love it but since the anxiety took hold, I haven’t been near a pool.
This afternoon I ran out of excuses, so with our costumes and towels ready, I bundled them in the car. Arriving at the sports centre, I took the two smallest children into a large cubicle with me to change, and we put our things in a locker. It was going really well until we reached the water.
‘Be careful, its slippery,’ I cried. ‘Don’t run, you’ll fall.’ ‘Hold onto me, don’t let go.’ I wasn’t enjoying myself and realised this was the reason I have never taken my youngest children swimming. They are both very confident and sensible, and more than capable in a pool that barely came up to my knees but all I could see was danger. They could slip and bang their head, slip under and swallow some water or get lost and panic. I wanted to get out, and I looked around for a clock. My eyes caught the parents of a baby, only a few months old. The dad was tipping the baby backwards into the water and she was shrieking with joy.
Time slowed down and for the first time I ‘heard’ myself. I saw that I was being ridiculous. I allowed my youngest to let go of me and wade around the pool. Soon they were both charging around, splashing and laughing so I began to relax. I watched them carefully but there really was no need. They even had a go on the slides and Jacuzzi.
After half an hour I even took them into the big pool and left my eldest in charge whilst I swam a length alone. It’s a small victory and to some people it may seem like nothing important. To me, it meant that I acknowledged my fear and conquered it. In future I can take them swimming without feeling overwhelmed by my fears.