Remember the swimming tests you had to do to get the special armband at summer camp, you know, the one that meant you could swim wherever you want, as long as you used the buddy system? Passing meant freedom and fun for the week. Those tests, they, terrified me.
I had what could (being only slightly dramatic) be called a near drowning as a toddler. It's one of my earliest memories; being under the water at my aunt and uncle's in-ground pool on the nation's bicentennial. I didn't lose consciousness or anything, and my dad scooped me out relatively unscathed, except for a lifelong fear of deep water that kept me from completing swimming lessons when I was too terrified to jump into the deep end of the pool on the second day of class.
Regardless of my lack of swimming instruction coupled with my ability to sink to the bottom of the pool and remain there with zero effort (which has left me a remedial swimmer well into adulthood), my fear of missing out demanded that I not be left in the shallow area of the lake at camp. By sheer force of determination, I took (and passed) the swimming tests at summer camp every year.
Every time I started out convinced I would drown, but every time I somehow managed to keep my chin just above the water line, paddling like the dickens beneath the surface, for the full time mandated to get my armband of freedom.
And now that's how I live life every day.
When we got married and started having kids I had no notion that anything other than 2.3 typical children would be our end result. I didn't realize how intimately acquainted with terms like "translocation 21:21" or "ganglion cells" or "bone anchored hearing aid" I would become. Or that it would be a sink or swim style test that I had no preparation for on nearly a daily basis.
But here we are, and today I am reminding myself that I haven't drown yet.
The test is different every day. Often I pass like it's no biggie. There are times, though, when I need a lifeguard to throw me a flotation device, and there are days when I have to grab the dock and climb out of the water because my nose is barely clearing the surface. But most days I pass the test. Those days when it's a near miss, they blow my confidence, but generally leave me intact if not unscathed
I never quite get past the fear of drowning.
Life feels like a test I didn't study for, but I'm learning that I pass it almost every time, even if it's by the skin of my teeth, and even on the days I don't pass, I survive to try another day. And I think I'm learning to be okay with it.