During our vacation to Wisconsin, we stayed pretty wet. And not from the humidity. From the first hotel night, through the five days at the condo and on through the birthday party upon returning home, we only had two days were weren't suited-up and splashing. That's a lot of pool time. A few kids were at risk of sporting gills.
On our first full day at the resort, we visited one of the indoor water parks on the campus. One of three ... we enjoyed them all by the end of the week. This particular park, Klondike Kavern, was designed along the lines of the gold rush, complete with the water-filled Bonanza Bluff play area and Sulfur Springs spa.
This was also the location of the not-so-lazy Bonanza Brook. My nemesis.
After the first hour of sliding, splashing and sloshing around, Brett headed off with Aaron to brave a few trips down the tube slides. That left me with the three little girls who all wanted to float around the lazy river for a bit.
Before heading to the landing to intercept a couple of tubes, I strapped the two littlest girls into their life-jackets. And I'm so glad I did.
We stepped down the stairs into the brook/stream/rapids and snagged two double inner-tubes. Norah plopped down in the hole of one end of a tube while Ashley climbed into the other side. They both smiled and giggled. I lifted Lydia into the hole opposite me and she peered over the edge of the tube at me and grinned. We were set for some fun. At least until we pushed off into the deep.
Within just a few seconds, we went from fun to frantic! As the current pushed us along (and the fellow tubers bounced against us) I could quickly see that our strategy wasn't going to work. Even with the life-vests, Little Ashley and Tiny Liddy were dangling down in their respective holes, teeny fists gripping their tubes' hand-holds and still sorta-smiling through the clear plastic float. It was obvious that I needed to get them up onto the floats, but how?? We were in motion and they were slippery. And I'm short.
I grabbed a hand hold of Norah and Ashley's float and put on the breaks (i.e. my feet that fortunately reached the bottom of the pool). Then with my body, I wedged my float up against theirs to stop them from floating away. There was a potential for us to create a traffic jam, but everybody else was just going to have to go around!
First I managed to hoist Lydia up by her life-vest so that she was straddling the tube.
"Ride it like a horsey, Liddy. Okay?"
"Eee-haw." ...big smile...
Then I turned to the other girls. Norah looked nervous and Ashley was still hanging there with a grinning grimace plastered on her face. Are we having fun yet?! I reached over to try and grasp her hand but my arms were too short. I couldn't get a good grip. I felt a little panicky, but I knew that Mommy needed to keep her act together ... so that grinning grimace didn't turn into tears.
With my calmest voice I addressed Norah:
"Honey, I need you to help." Yeah ... I need you to help lift your sister who weighs as much as you do, plus a few extra pounds due to the sodden life-vest.
"Can you go under and push her up?" Yep ... go underwater ... in this current ... and push that bricks-in-her-britches kid up.
"Please." Mommy is pretty helpless here ... literally, out of her depth.
She dove under the tube, hoisted Ashley up until she could swing her leg over the tube (Eee-haw!) and then monkeyed herself back into her hole.
Smiles again ... this time for Mommy, too.
We entered back into the flow and found ourselves surrounded with familiar faces. Some of our family floated by and an uncle latched onto Norah and Ashley. I sighed (and shuddered ... a little post-traumatic stress released) and finally began to enjoy Bonanza Brook!
Let the laziness begin!
This experience is actually a pretty good illustration of how I sometimes feel in parenting. There are times when I find myself on the bank of a new adventure or a new season in mommyhood ... ready to jump in, but not sure what I'm actually in for. From the edge of the water, it looks like fun. Maybe a few bumps. Maybe a few rapids, but with my tube, I anticipate it will be smooth sailing.
Then I get into the middle of the current and find myself in over my head. My feet can't find the bottom of the river, my hands seem too slippery to hold on for long and the current is pushing me along whether I want it to or not! This new stage of mothering is not what I thought I was jumping into!
In these moments, I have to trust in others to keep me afloat.
I have to trust in friends and family. So often I have fellow moms and other family members who offer to help and instead of accepting their assistance, I hear the words, "It's okay ... I've got it ..." come out of my mouth. And then there I am bobbing up and down gasping for air instead of benefiting from the blessing of their rescue.
I have to trust in my kids. They amaze me sometimes with their resiliency and maturity. On more than one occasion, I have floundered in my parenting and been rescued by my own little people. Whether they are extending grace, a helping hand or a fresh perspective, I find myself back on secure footing and seeing my kids in a whole new light.
I have to trust in God. He promises to keep my head above water ... my own personal Life-Saver according to Isaiah 43:2, "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you."
Parenting is a wet and wild ride ... but if we surround ourselves with the right people, if we are willing to accept a little help, and if we are resting in our Life-Saver it can be both fun and memorable!