I’m having one of “those days” as a mom. Ya know… the kind where nothing stupendously wrong happens but where you still get to the end of the day shell shocked wondering what the hell just happened as your tights continue to dig into your waist because they should have been off hours ago.
I was snippy with my kids and impatient. I couldn’t wait for bedtime. So here I sat with zero intention of doing anything but scroll through social media and drool on myself now that they are asleep. I kinda zoned out as I started to look through pics, and I stumbled upon this little jewel, and it inspired me. Not many know the backstory behind what appears to be a perfect little vacation picture . . .
I love dolphins, and so when we went on our Disney Cruise this past winter, I knew for SURE that Caroline and I would share a wonderful experience that she would remember for years and years and tell alllllllll her friends and teachers for years to come about how she and mommy swam with the dolphins. But in addition to loving dolphins (and lakes and swimming), I’m also a self-admitted Psycho Mom when it comes to water safety, so being on a little island in the middle of Blue Lagoon, my Mom Safety Sensors were set to “Stun” level. Caroline is not the strongest swimmer at this point, though she thinks she is, and I was having zero of her strong-willed shenanigans during this Once In A Lifetime Perfect Mommy Daughter Moment.
We sat along the plastic buoyant platform waiting our turn to enter the water onto a walkway to interact with the dolphins as it was a shallow-water experience appropriate for minimum age 4. (Sweet! We made the cutoff!) We got in the water; the dolphin played with us; we got out and sat back down on the floating platform with slippery butts* to wait our turn again. *An important detail, I promise.
Well, Princess C couldn’t be bothered with a mere wait time for a dolphin and proceeded to wiggle her (slippery) butt to the edge and stick her little foot down into the dolphin tank below us.
“Mommy is serious. STOP.”
“Caroline I am not kidding you’re going to fall in.”
“No I’m not!”
Then, I, Super Water Safety Mom, dare to look away for a split second and PLOP. The sound of a 50 pound-ish little blonde blob hitting the water.
I look and she’s sinking.
In the @&?!$ Dolphin Tank.
They aren’t kidding when they say something kicks in as a mother and you just do what you need to do. I slipped in after her (I have many imperfections but I’m a damn good swimmer) grabbed her, and with the help of a kind stranger, hoisted her back up on the slippery floating platform. Side note: it’s the Bahamas, but in February that water is far from warm. Yikes!
Oh, but wait…. now I am in said dolphin tank and there is no way in hell I can pull up onto this platform. It’s buoyant and flips when I pull it down. (Some kid offered to help pull me up, but I spared us both that humiliation. Did you know they film these encounters nowadays?! No one was getting that spectacle on home video.)
As Caroline dramatically cried about the salty water tasting like fish and being “dis-gross-ting” (gross + disgusting; it’s just too cute to correct), I had no other course of action but to swim across the dolphin tank DURING THE SHOW and use the ladder.
Caroline continues to scream and sputter, and I begin my trek across the tank, only to be stopped by a friendly bottle-nosed creature named Salvador. I had to kiss him before he moved out of my way. And oh yes, Caroline is still making a scene. And the camera is still rolling. And the kind stranger who helped pull her out of the tank is trying to console her unsuccessfully.
After the hoopla, and after I bought an overpriced/dry Dolphin Encounter shirt, one of the other excursionists came up to Caroline and said “sweetie are you ok?” And her response? “My mommy saved me!”
So in spite of my planning and watch-dog/water safety parenting, the proverbial poo totally hit the fan. We are always going to have days like that, and days like the one I had today, where try and try and try as you might to be the perfect parent or create that perfect memory to make your kids happy, reality goes a different route. Now I look at that picture and realize, it was a pretty perfect day, and I know for sure we will both remember it. I just hope she also remembers that I was there for her when she needed me, and that Mommy is always right 😬
And today, after all the sweating and frustration and bribing and rushing from here to there and a fast food dinner (ugh!) and being out too late on a school night and panty hose that were on for way too long . . . . I put two happy kids to bed with their bellies full. Pretty good “picture” to end the day.
So trust me, you’ll get that perfect picture, it just might have a more interesting story behind it than you intended.