I’ve never done drugs. I’ve never smoked a cigarette.
I am, Dear Reader, an Osmond without the teeth and the Mormonism.
I have therefore to choose my highs naturally, and the latest, most modish high is open water swimming.
This is an extremely predictable middle aged women’s pursuit apparently, along with triathlons and getting tattoos to remind you that you are in fact yourself-and not the mother of three complicated individuals who are apparently unable to load a dishwasher, despite being eminently capable of unloading the fridge..
in this spirit you join me about to pack my bag to swim, in a lake under instruction.
I am a rubbish swimmer.
I hate taking children swimming.
I can’t do the sedate and sustainable breast stroke.
Instead I was taught a showy splashy front crawl, which is exhausting and doesn’t coordinate well with my breathing.
Fortunate enough to live bordering the Peak District I have hills surrounding me that are fabulous for running in and bird spotting.
Nearby is a particularly beautiful stream, ending in three waterfalls which people love to swim in. I’d never been despite living 20 minutes drive away for the last 25 years, didn’t even know how to find it.
Six weeks ago on a freezing May Day (oh how I love this country!) in the rain, with 3 people I’ve never met, I swam in it!. It was amazing.
A codicil. Getting out I experienced a continuing drop in body temperature, like a pre hypothermia, that effected my cognition, movement and vision.It was bizarre and unpleasant, and is the reason that if you decide to do this for the first time you do it with someone experienced,who explains that it might happen, tells you what to do if it does and watches you like a hawk to make sure you are OK. (Basically my body wanted to lie down and sleep, but I knew I had to keep warm and keep moving and it would pass) People die in open water, and it is much colder than you or your limbic system is expecting.
Anyway I want more, but I need to improve my swimming and I need to be with someone in case my brain plays hypothermic tricks on me again.
I leave in an hour with everything packed in a ruck sack, and am excited and trepidatious.
14 years ago my body did something extraordinary and heaved out a remarkable individual with no pain relief. (Yes I have mentioned it before and no I won’t stop banging on about it because I am actually a Goddess)
I had experience of birthing and parenting twice, and was well aware that it could be difficult, painful and unexpected, but oh the highs….definitely worth it?
Apparently when faced with uncertainty, disability, and unusual development of a child, coupled with complete lack of diagnosis – a parents body can do strange and unusual things.
Denial is one, fierce overprotectiveness another. Anxiety, depression and an inability to do tasks that were previously achievable all present.
A reasonable reaction at this time may be to lie down and sleep, forever.
I’m afraid sleep is for losers, or people that don’t have to wake up repeatedly in the night to change a teenagers pad/resuscitate a toddler/unblock a PEG feed(delete as appropriate )
If you are new to this extreme parenting I just want to come along side you and say, this reaction is normal.It doesn’t make you a bad parent.It doesn’t make you ableist.It is a reflex your system has that can’t be explained, strikes each of us to a different degree and is not entirely unpredictable..
There is a trick to working through this.
Keep someone close by to keep an eye on you.
Make sure you have plenty of coffee and something sweet.
Persisting through this difficult time will bring its own rewards, and teach you about yourself your strengths and weaknesses (believe me you will have both)
It might not be easy. It won’t always be fun, but then training isn’t supposed to be. It’s supposed to be training.
Dear fellow parentsI am in no way minimising the grief, confusion and sheer exhaustion an unexpected Pearl in the bagging area can bring.
But know this. It is possible to survive these early feelings of disorientation.
It is possible to thrive in a harsh environment.
It is possible to be utterly giddy with joy at your achievements. Not always, because come on people this is after all real life,not just a tenuous analogy about sport, but often.
Ease yourself in. Check your breathing.Persist with caution, but nevertheless persist.
You my darling have absolutely got this.
With thanks to Suzie at Peak Swims, currently rebuilding my swimming technique ! (News just in I didn’t drown or get hypothermia but I did work hard and had a massive giggle too!)Check out her page here