I’ll own it

I was accused yesterday of being a proud mom.  I’m pretty sure it was intended as an insult.  It didn’t have the desired effect.  I took it as a compliment.  I am proud of my girls.  They certainly aren’t perfect.  They get that honestly – I am as far from perfect as you can get.  But I try.  Well, not really.

Going into last nights meet I was proud of Grace.  She has developed a great attitude about summer swimming.  She has learned to enjoy it and not get caught up in who she is beating.  As a result, she has had one hell of a summer.  As a result of that, she qualified to swim 100 back and free at a USA-S sanctioned meet – top 8 in each age and stroke were invited to race.

Grace had her eye on the prize.  She wants a knee skin.  Dad told her she needed a AAA cut before she turned 14 and he would shell out mega bucks for the suit.  Grace was concerned she wouldn’t do well, that all the other girls would be in knee skins.  And they were, she was right.  But Grace was wrong – she did just fine in her rinky dink Recordbreaker.  She thought she would get the cut in 100 back.  She didn’t. But she gave it a noble effort and did make the Zones cut that was hanging over her head.  But before she swam backstroke she shocked herself by getting that AAA cut in 100 free.  She ran upstairs after the race and was literally jumping for joy.

Tomorrow we start a long 4 day weekend of JO’s and a summer meet.  The mood has already been set for Grace – she is fired up and ready to go.

Am I proud of her?  Hell yeah.  You are going to have to try harder to insult me.  I’ll own it.  And that knee skin?  Grace will own it too.  Not in time for this weekend unfortunately.  She will just have to own that pool in the suit she has.  Watch out world when she gets it.  It might not matter her faster but she wants it.

Me?  I would rather have new shoes…

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Are you Grace’s mom?

I was walking into the gym today and was approached by someone asking if I was Grace”s mom. I’m a horrible mother – I immediately assume my children have done something wrong. Grace broke two team records last weekend. In 50 back and 50 free. The backstroke record had belonged to this ladies daughter. When she told me this I still wasn’t sure how to react. My immediate reaction was to apologize. She was offering her congratulations. The record was from 2005 – her daughter, now an adult, enjoyed her moment of glory and was ready to pass it along.

At the end of last season Grace broke a pool record at an away meet. She broke the record at Divisionals, the final meet of the season. The other team moved up to the highest division in our league. She joked that her name would never make the record board – that the record would be beat at the first home meet. She should have put some money on it, her prediction was spot on – her record fell. By .08.

The pool had not updated their record board or their heat sheets. The meet was covered on a news site that specializes in reporting on local swimming. The site is owned by a credible large media outlet. Because they did not have the correct information the record holder and time were credited to the previous record holder. Incidentally, after Divisionals, the same site ran a story on our meet, mentioned the falling record and included a photo of Grace breaking the record.

I sent a brief email to them including the meet results showing that Grace held the record. They amended the article and they apologized. I told them no need to apologize. But I also felt it was the right thing to do. It wasn’t 8 years ago. It was 10 months ago. It was still important to Grace.

Many of the families we club swim with are on this particular summer team. One “friend” of mine publicly criticized me for sending the email. Everyone else thought it was the right thing to do. I’m unapologetic. As well as I know my “friend” I know she would have made a much bigger deal of it than I did. Grace never did get her name on that record board. She wasn’t upset, she found humor in the accuracy of her prediction. She was also comforted by the fact that while her record was broken she broke two of her own that day.

We don’t have a pretty record board at our pool. It’s actually paper stapled on a cork board. The best Grace can hope for this season is that they print a new sheet with her name and record and tack it over top the old sheet. I suspect that won’t happen – my guess is her name will be added with a sharpie. I’ll give it a few weeks. If it doesn’t happen I do happen to have a sharpie in my bag.

In the end, yes – I am Grace’s mom. And Sarah’s mom. Sophie too. I don’t care if you judge me. I’m not an obnoxious swim mom. But my kids work hard. Grace deserved the credit. As does the young lady who broke Grace’s record. I hope she is as proud as Grace was that day. Grace is a pretty good little backstroker and to those that beat her I say job well done. And to all those kids who put out great records that Grace is trying to beat? I say thank you for unknowingly motivating her to try harder every day. That’s more than a mom could ever hope for.

Sometimes it pays to be crazy

I pride myself on being that “normal” swim mom but I may have to  table that for a moment.

We have a crazy swim dad. He registers his son in meets that our club is not attending, he watches practices and has his son attend multiple practices in the same day.  He has been asked many times to refrain from doing these things.  He smiles, nods his head in agreement and then does it anyways.  The kids think he is nuts, he has this angry stance he assumes for an hour and a half while watching practice – it is creepy.  He even instigated an argument with a parent from a competing club.  Yet his son continues to swim.

Meanwhile, we are still waiting to find out if Sophie can swim in the summer session with our club.  The summer session is designed for kids who want to participate in long course meets.  Sophie does.  It’s emphasis is kids who have made JO cuts.  Sophie has.  She is the slowest swimmer in the group by the smallest margin you can imagine – there are several kids in the group who are barely faster than her.  She makes the intervals, completes practice and doesn’t complain.  She is also the youngest – she just turned 9.   And let’s not forget her sister Sarah is also in the group.  We are obviously committed to the group and practice.

The session starts today.  Sophie swims Sunday in the Maryland State Champs meet.  She has been granted permission to swim this week in preparation for the meet.  But if there isn’t space for her, she won’t be able to swim JO’s.

Needless to say, I am not happy.  Swimming is a sport about individual goal setting.  Those of you who have followed my tales of swimming know that Sophie’s only goal last year was to make a 9-10 JO cut at the age of 8.  She fell short of her goal by a few weeks but nailed her 100 fly at the first long course meet.  She is proud of her accomplishment and can’t wait to swim at the meet.  I don’t have the heart to tell her that there may not be room in the practice group.  Instead of being crazy I have decided to be proactive.  I will make it happen, there are lots of options to explore.

In the end, I am disappointed that my daughter wasn’t welcomed to the group with open arms.  Swimming is about setting goals.  When a young 9 year old sets a goal and accomplishes it we owe it to them to see it through.  I guess that is my job.

I’m sure I will regret putting this out there – we are really happy with our club and this is the first time I have been disappointed in them.  I couldn’t sleep last night, this weighed heavy on my heart.  I need sleep tonight so I am putting my feelings out there.

Do they not have the internet?

Last evening after practice two of the coaches came upstairs to talk to parents. Our pool is actually downstairs from the main lobby and the club has wisely (very wisely) adopted no parents on deck policy. The coaches also wisely (extremely wisely) duck out a back door some evenings. They all have full-time jobs and families and like to get home. They also make a point of coming upstairs and chatting with parents several times a week. Last night was one of those evenings.

They were surrounded by parents with questions about this weekends meet.

What time is warm-ups?
Which pool is hosting the meet?
Is there positive check-in?
Is 200 free first or last?

I was unfortunately sitting way too close and overheard all of this madness.

The most reliable source for all of this information is the meet announcement. Which is online. Everything you could ever want to know about the meet. You can pull it up on your phone. Your ipad. Heck you can even print it on paper on highlight information that matters to you. The club also emails everyone attending the meet ALL of this information the night before the meet starts – that would be tonight.

These are not parents that are new to the sport, most of their kids are in the advanced groups.

When everyone had their fill of stupid questions I asked the single most important question of all. Do you want your usual order from Starbucks.

Coaches aren’t complex creatures. Ask them the important questions. Ask your kids first though, they probably already know the answer. Grace had already gotten their coffee order. We are professionals at this. Watch and learn people…

What do you have to lose?

Almost two months has passed since we made a lifestyle change. We shifted our eating habits from those of convenience to habits that are more in line with the healthy lifestyle we are trying to lead.

We weren’t trying to “lose weight” as a family. All of us are very physically active. It’s a blessing. And a curse. When you are maintaining a healthy weight – all the while being very active it is easy to over look the occasional transgressions in diets. And by occasional I really mean daily

I admit it. I got lazy. Cooking dinner is nearly impossible when you are away from the house every evening.

I made the decision after watching Grace eat an entire pizza after a meet. That wasn’t even the trigger point for me. A friend made the comment “I wish I could eat whatever I wanted and be that thin”.

The truth is an entire pizza after a grueling meet won’t hurt a kid. At all. What will is the mindset that we can eat whatever we want and not gain weight. We need to stop thinking in terms of weight and think in terms of health. It changes the whole vibe when you consider that. Because we can’t eat whatever we want and still be healthy. Please don’t try and convince me the Snickers diet is healthy. We all know better.

Eight weeks later we are still making the right choices. My kids aren’t being neglected they actually *compliment* me on dinners and have all but stopped asking for junk. They are absolutely allowed to eat crap anytime it presents itself. No one in their right mind would turn down made from scratch brownies at a backyard barbecue. I wouldn’t want them to. Deprivation is a recipe for disaster.

In the end, we didn’t have anything to lose. And we did it anyways. I thought that a major overhaul of our families diet was going to be impossible. It wasn’t even close. It was actually quite easy. I am really happy we did it.

Does Ryan know what Ryan would do?

I am a reality tv show junkie.  Of course I watched “What would Ryan Lochte do?”.  I was 30 minutes of my life I will never get back.

I’m going to be honest with you.  I know he went to the Olympics.  More than once.  I know he won medals.  More than once.  Beyond that I really don’t know too much about him.  Other than the fact that he is crazy hot.  After watching the show, I still know that.  Any nothing else.  I can guarantee that Ryan doesn’t even know what he would do.   The show literally made my brain cry – can he really be that dim-witted?

I can’t wait until next week when it comes back on.  I have wised up, I will just watch it on mute.  I can pretend he is saying intelligent things.  Shirtless.  I also think he should go on the Bachelor.  And Survivor.  Amazing Race too.

Make Sophie Stop!!!

It’s hard to believe it has been nine years since our family became three beautiful little girls.  Sophie can’t possibly be nine.  She agreed to be my baby forever.  We are going to be old when she graduates from college, we tell her all the time that it will be a smooth transition, one day she will live with us and the next us with her.

Sophie was our easiest baby.  Not because she was easy but because we had finally figured out what we were doing.  Or we were too busy to care.  Regardless, from day one Sophie was on the go with us.  Which is kind of funny because she would prefer to be at home over anywhere else.  She is quite content hanging out with dad on a quiet Sunday afternoon.  I guess we wore her out early on.

Sophie is a happy kid.  She expresses herself by singing and dancing.  People often ask “where does Sophie dance”.  I try to explain that she is in a home school program for dance.  Ok, YouTube taught her.  Mother of the year I have never claimed to be.  I signed her up for hip hop once, she quit.  She didn’t like “doing” the choreography of other people.    She looks pretty good to me.  I guess that is because the rest of us really suck at dancing.

She drives Sarah and Grace nuts.  They can’t hear Full House over her singing.  They can’t see it either because she is dancing in front of the TV.  It all annoys me because they are in MY family room and not THEIR playroom.  Truth be told, I don’t want to see Full House – it is a painful reminder as to how badly I dressed in the early 90’s.  If only I had a spiral perm for every time I hear “MOM, MAKE SOPHIE STOP”…For a while I took Sophie’s side – how do you tell someone they are too freaking happy and that all of their singing and dancing and joyous crap is annoying?

The other day I was sitting at my desk doing some work.  Soph was behind me, doing one of her many interpretive (ok performance art) dances.  Suddenly, out of no where, she kicked me upside the head.  I couldn’t help myself, I told her to stop dancing.  I thought that would slow her down.  It didn’t.

The very next day she kicked the crap out of the coffee table.  Bruised her foot really good.  Like all good parents, we took her hiking.  We had planned a nice birthday celebration for her, complete with a hike and a trip to our local winery.  (Everyone hosts their kids 9th birthday at a winery right?).  Surely this would slow her down?

She tried to swim the next day.  Not because she wanted to but because it was her birthday.  Tradition with our club is that birthdays are celebrated with Donuts, and the birthday kid gets thrown in the pool by the coach.  The pain was an easy sacrifice.  She made it 59 minutes out of a 90 minute practice.  When she got out her entire foot was bruised and swollen twice its normal size.  That slowed her down.

An X-Ray the next day revealed two of the tiny bones in her foot were broken.  The Dr felt that once the swelling went down she would be able to get back in the water.  That slowed her down even more.

The next day after school she was doing cartwheels.  She went to swim that evening.  I want to be nine again.  At least I can still do a cartwheel.  Happy birthday Sophie.  Never stop being happy.  Just don’t kick me in the head.

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Just sleep on it

Thursday night I left the pool pretty fired up. I felt like Sophie was being caught in the crossfires of being good but not quite good enough.

Friday rolled around. Sophie refused to go to the advanced juniors practice. The coach had not told her what practice to attend and being a quite literal kid who is only 8 was concerned that she should not go to the practice. The head coach is not there on Friday nights. Sounds totally stupid to a grown up. Makes perfect sense to am almost 9 year old. After a battle of the wills (mine) and a few tears shed (hers) it was decided we would stay at home.

Thirty minutes later she got it together and asked to go. It was too late to go to the advanced juniors but we had plenty of time to make juniors. Should come as no surprise – I took her.

It was her first Friday night practice in either group. Attendance was light and there was a great deal,of stroke work with juniors. She got a lot out of practice and enjoyed it.

We showed up this morning for the 7 am practice and she did advanced juniors. After practice I talked to the coach and worked out a fantastic “time share” program for her that will have her in the group full time sooner than later.

I apologized for being rude in our previous conversation. He assured me I wasn’t. This means one of two things. Either I still can pull the bitch card some day. OR being nice pays off. I really respect our coaches. I’m hoping to leave the bitch card unplayed.

The most important thing of all – Sophie gets to practice with the advanced juniors on Tuesday. Her birthday. Traditionally birthdays in the group are celebrated with donuts. That is what really matters. Oh and I can sleep well tonight. No worries. For now.

It’s a rough life

This morning most of our community woke up early to participate in the annual 5K that is run through the neighborhoods.  Those that don’t run make signs and cheer on their neighbors, friends and classmates.  Grace expressed an interest in running it a few weeks ago.  Start time?  8AM.

Grace instead rose before the sun.  She had a swim practice at 6AM.  Had she pressed the 5K I would have allowed her to skip practice and run the race instead.  She didn’t.

Last night my husband asked me if I remembered when I became a swim mom.  For a while I was a mom who drove her kids to swim.  And then one day I accidentally fell in love with the sport.

I remember the moment.  I was watching Grace swim a long free style set and thinking how mundane and boring it must be to be a swimmer.  And then I realized I was jealous.  I’ll never understand the 2 hours that a swimmer spends completely inside themselves.  No music, conversation, road noise, change in terrain or people watching.  I was always a runner and these were the things that kept me going.  A swimmer keeps going without any of that.  It is just them.  Pressing on.  It’s the solitude of a swimmer that I respect the most.

For the early practices we use a side door, it is propped open with a large rock.  It’s a short walk down a dirt hill to the door.  From my parking spot looking down I see right through the door to the starting blocks.  A few kids were already in the pool and all I could see was small movement of the water.  It was dark outside but the flourescent lighting made the water glow.  I felt like I was looking into the window of a swimmers soul. A place I’ll never go but always respect.

By the time Grace crawled back under her covers for a quick catnap most of her friends had finished the 5K.  Photos were all over facebook of families and their triumphant runs – medals around their necks.  Grace didn’t get a medal today.  But she made the choice to go to a mundane, boring practice today.  She gets gold in my heart.

 

Skill vs will

Right now I suck at being a swim mom. I’m pretty good at most things that the sport and parenting hand me. But this one thing? It’s making me cranky.

I’m not generally a worrier. That’s because I like to be in control. When I am in control things go well. When I’m not I’m a bitch. When I lose control in regards to something that affects my kids? Run away from me. Far.

Sophie is stuck in no mans land. She turns 9 on Tuesday. She can no longer be a mini. Which leaves her two options. Juniors or Advanced Juniors.

I personally think she belongs in Advanced Juniors. It’s the group she will absolutely be in next September. I’m all for keeping things simple. Put her in the group now, shut the box and tie a bow on it. Plus Sarah is in the group. Three kids two groups trumps three kids three groups. The practices will be a challenge for her but she can do them. She has the will.

Unfortunately she lacks some of the skill. Her freestyle needs some work. Advanced Juniors does some pretty long free endurance sets – the coach has concerns and feels that she will get more stroke work out of juniors. I’m not convinced he is correct. There are too many kids in the group with not enough coaches or lanes. I see it as a mess. Sophie hates it. They put her with 12 year old kids. She doesn’t want to swim there.

I’m doing what’s best for my kid. I am not sure yet what that is. But it has me pissed off. She has a fast fly and will be making some big meets as a 9 year old. She wants the challenge of the tougher group. I’ll do what it takes to get her the skill. But don’t mess with her will. You can’t teach that. I’m willing to play hard ball. A good coach will be too…someone can take her from good to great. Who is that going to be?