Last night of swimming lessons for my three year old, they decide to have playtime , tons of kids and five or six instructors/lifeguards on duty. They're in the shallow end with slides and whatnot but the shallow end gets deeper towards one end...maybe almost four feet. My daughter was in the middle and decides to walk towards the deeper part. I'm not in the pool, I'm fully clothed, as no one knew they were going to let the kids play freely at the end of the lesson. Anyway, she walks towards the deeper part and I kept thinking, "she won't go any further", but she does. I see her face go under for one second and I yell out her name, my brain isn't fully registering what to do at this point. Maybe another sec goes by, I go throw my stuff down and jump in and her instructor pulls her up. Now I feel like a horrible mommy, because I hesitated for a second. She's absolutely fine by the way, I just feel like crap. Moral support would be awesome, maybe someone's gone through the exact experience?
There are going to be times as your children grow that they get into scrapes, they have close calls, and you will always feel guilty for awhile - always wondering if you were a good enough mom - it comes with the territory. (it's no consolation that these feelings never go away even when your kids become adults, but maybe it helps to know that we are good moms partly because we feel this way and worry) I hope you are able to deal with these feelings and appreciate the good job you are doing. Many mothers don't even bother or can't let their kids get swimming lessons because of their own fears and those kids grow up without even knowing how to swim! You're doing fine. If you keep worrying excessively, maybe see a counselor or therapist because worries like these can escalate and become problems when you are afraid to let your kids do things for fear they might get hurt.
mega1 - Thank you so much for your words of encouragement, really. I know that the feelings of worry and guilt probably won't ever go away, and I can deal with that. I just hate feeling powerless and feeling like I could've done something better to protect my baby girl. I won't hold her back from doing things just because there's risk, though. I don't want her to miss out on life because of my fears. Again, thank you so much.
The ability to control one's reactions and reaction times at every single moment, never mind an unexpected and shocking moment like that, is not within our capacity as human beings
Kitty, you're not a horrible mom. You're awesome.
You were watching, not hovering; you were protective, not overprotective.
It takes a lot of courage to let your kid do something that you know can be dangerous, and to trust that your kid will make the right calls and be okay.
I second the words of Jeff Berndt. You were awesome; watching, not hovering, protective without being overly so.
May you always continue to find that middle ground between wasteful worry and prudent caution. It sounds like you are already determined to do so.
Jeff - Thanks so much! That truly makes me feel better. I'm just always trying to make the right decisions, I know I'm not perfect but I want to be a good mom and protect her without being stifling. I don't want her to miss out on life because of my fears.
happyboomernurse - Thanks so much to you, too! Thanks for seeing the best and being so supportive.
I am so glad your child is OK. I have had the same thing happen to me when I was young. It is terrifying!
Your not I said NOT a bad mom. Kids gotta learn by mistakes and go through different experiences so they dont fear everything and anything. A friend of mine is afraid of pools, but she never went in one. Even if you did hesitate also, there were people there keeping an eye on things so don't worry at all she would have been in good hands.
My daughter is a lifeguard, this happens way more than you would believe. Although the guards are usually teenagers they're typically trained well and they do what they're trained to do- prevent drownings.
You're not a bad mom!!! Swimming lessons are wonderful and before you know it she will learn the skills to keep her head above water and safety. Good luck!!! Swimming is a great exercise and wonderful skill don't let this scare you away.
I wouldn't worry about it. Even the best of parents sometimes delay their actions. Sometimes we don't always think about what we should do. There have been lots of times as my children were growing up that i thought maybe I should have reacted differently to something, but then I got over it and my kids have all turned out fine. We're always trying to figure out if we should have done something differently. A little girl recently stole nail polish from me and i reacted and vented because the parents weren't very good about having her return the stuff to me. She was a friend of my girls. i was very angry and vented and they didn't like that I vented and expressed my opinion. In my mind they're not very good parents.
That kid was protected 6 ways from Sunday. Don't worry about it!
The hesitation? You mean the second where your brain "sees" THE HORRIBLE THING, the THING THAT IS THE END OF EVERYTHING, the moment that would never happen? That moment when everything in you rejects it as really happening?
Terrifying, isn't it? Welcome to mommyhood.
What a scary moment! Goodness, I'm sure that caused a few gray hairs. Sometimes it takes a second for the brain to figure out what is going on - you jumped in as soon as you realized she had gone under. That is the important thing - she would not have drowned because you were there and watching her (in addition to the six lifeguards in the water).
I'm glad she is OK, and thank goodness you were paying attention (a lot of mothers would have been zoned out reading magazines on the side of the pool - you were actually paying attention and jumped in to get her)! You're a good mom - don't beat yourself up over it!
My second daughter did the same thing in a friend's pool years ago. I was laying there and she was in the shallow end, but inching more toward the deeper water. I was watching her and she suddenly started going under! I think my mind froze a minute and then my feet hit the water faster than my brain. Her sister was nearby and pulled her up till I got there. Scary and yes, guilt. Normal feelings. Thankful that I did not lose her and how that would have made me feel.
lealefler & jseven - That's the thing, I didn't jump in. I was going to jump in and set down my stuff right as the teacher picked her up. That's why I feel so horrible. In the end, I know I was going to jump in and save her. I wouldn't have let her stay under that water for more than 5 seconds but it's just the point. I want to be the best mother to her, I don't want to watch her drown ever. Thank you for your kind words, though. And you're right, a lot of mothers probably wouldn't even have noticed it happening. It's definitely a scary experience though, and it didn't make it any better that she threw a gigantic fit when I made her get out of the water to go home. My nerves were totally shot when I got home! I'm more than thankful that I didn't lose her, she's the most precious thing in my life. Thank you both again. I needed the encouragement tonight.
kittythedreamer, last night I saw this thread and wrote a post but didn't post it. Why? Because it "came out" (as if I wasn't the one who wrote it, right? ) way too long. Why did it come out too long? Because even though I haven't had the same experience with a pool that you did, I've had my own few "such experiences" as far as feeling awful about letting something go on went.
Why did it come out so long? Because I was both trying to say something that may help you feel "less bad" but also trying to say something that may, perhaps, help you or someone else who reads (and has a young child) feel/be a little less vulnerable in the future. In any case, I didn't know if I said all the wrong things or not; and since I'm always embarrassed by long posts, I just decided not to post it.
This morning, I see you're still here. My unposted comments are still in my files. I decided, after seeing your most recent post, that I'd go ahead and post the thoughts that were my immediate reaction to your thread last night. If I've said anything that's "all wrong" please overlook it. I think that at least a couple of my points aren't at all "all wrong".
I can see what a scare that must have been, and I'm guessing you're probably still at least somewhat shaken up after it. You're not a bad mother. You trusted the many people in charge; and for the most part, such trust (under circumstances where water isn't a factor) would be normal, reasonable, and what anyone should/ought to do.
It seems like you've seen for yourself, though, that when it comes to water it's probably safest not to ever let anyone but you (or your child's father) be the one to keep your eye on your child. Other people mean well, but so often, even they don't realize the kind of stuff a child might do. When it's your own child, and you're the only one watching out for him, you'll see if the child starts to stray a little to far somewhere. You're not a bad mother or a careless mother. You went with the same kind of "water set-up"/learning set-up that a whole lot of other people see as fine and know usually works out OK.
The following is not intended to come across as if I think my way is the only way, and it's not intended to "point out the flaws" in what very reasonably seemed to you to be a very safe "set up". It's just my ideas on how you, or someone else reading here, might be able to avoid such a scare (or something worse than scare) in the future:
It's one thing to leave your child in the care of others at preschool (or something like that). I think it's another when it comes to water, woods, mountains, and a few other situations I can't think of right now. My measure when it came to water, and when my kids were little, was: "Can my child swim well enough to save his own life?" When the answer was "no" I made sure the "water situation" didn't involve one with water too deep for a child to stand up in (or if the child was old enough to be in a "sort of deep" (but not so deep they couldn't stand up) pool, that he was old enough to know how to make his way to the side of the pool or the ladder (that type of thing).
I had inlaws who thought I was "too much" because I wouldn't let one inlaw or another take weak-swimming kids in a canoe or boat (and often one adult with two or three little kids). What water I'd let them go in, and whether I had to be the one watching, depended on the age. If they were old enough to kind of "have their wits about them" I was more relaxed about it than when they were preschoolers (who are generally "clueless" and need to have the right adult(s) paying attention in the water.
I wouldn't trust my very young kids to older kids or even the most caring and conscientious adults around water either (even if it was a one/one supervision thing). Some of the best and most caring people in the world just don't know the kind of stuff that little kids are likely to do out of the blue. We learn that stuff by being around children of different types and ages over a good length of time.
If I can make up for the "tips" on water safety and the youngest children, here's a "trusting-other-people" example:
I'm a normal, careful, mother. So was my mother. So, if there was anyone I trusted to know children and be very careful about them, it was my mother. When we'd go shopping they enjoyed going with their grandmother while I went off and shopped in another part of the store. I never thought twice about it. More than once, though, when I'd do my shopping and go find my mother, I'd see my child sitting in the carriage's child's seat unattended. My mother would be a few feet away with her back to the carriage, and she'd be looking at racks, shelves, etc. I was pretty disturbed because besides thinking any freak could come along and take my toddler, it was clear to me that my mother had no idea that (particularly one of them) my child would only stay seated for so long before she'd stand up in that precarious child seat in the carriage.
When I'd shop I'd always keep my hand over my toddler's hand as s/he sat in the carriage. It was my way of making sure I didn't "forget" and stray off to look at stuff without kind of "not noticing" what my child was doing in the carriage. (I didn't hold my child's hand really tight the hold time - I'd just kind of make sure my hand was brushing theirs. Sometimes I'd just touch the back of their hand - that type of thing. Fortunately no child of mine ever stood up and tipped the carriage over, and fortunately no strangers ever came along and bothered them (even if only someone else's bigger kid who might give my toddler something hazardous (a toy, a piece of food they might choke on, etc.) I'd learned, though, that although I could still trust my mother everywhere else - not with my child in a shopping mall.
I wasn't a bad mother. Neither was my mother. In fact, I don't think I ever thought to tell her that my usually "well behaved in public places" kids would only stay seated for so long. I didn't think to, but if I had I would have just assumed she knew children.
These kinds of things happen to all mothers. We learn from them. It doesn't mean we can't ever trust anyone else to keep our child safe. It just means we have to be a little bit more cautious about where we do (and it's only a few situations and until children get a little bit bigger), and how much we "back completely off" and leave our child's safety up to them.
Back to the pool/class situation where you went: Maybe the adults in charge are the best people in the world, and believe they're as cautious and safety-conscious as possible. Personally, one of them should had a non-stop eye on the part of the pool that gets deeper, and I think the little kids should have had some boundary (even if only an imagined one that the adults kept in mind and made sure the little kids didn't go anywhere near x number of feet within that imaginary boundary. They were the ones who "failed" (even if they're otherwise fine and sensible people). All you did was trust people who (I'm guessing) made it clear to you that they are "all about safety", and it was perfectly normal and reasonable that you would trust these "experts".
Your little girl is OK. That's the main thing. If you bring her back there, tell them you never want that kind of thing to happen again, and you "DO NOT" want your playing anywhere beyond x feet out on the shallow end. Stand at the point if you need to when play time comes around. Tell them if your daughter gets too close to where she shouldn't be. Besides keeping your child safer, it will serve as a reminder to them that better attention needs to be paid to a bigger section of pool where the littlest kids should never be. Maybe they'll start asking mothers to be pool-side "eye" on their own child at play time.
I suppose the length of my post comes from my hearing quite a few recent "water stories"/pool stories recently on the local news. One was a state pool with lifeguards in which a young woman drowned and wasn't found until two days later when teens swimming under cloudy water ran into her. The story was that a boy told one of the lifeguards that the woman had fallen and not come back up. There were a couple of little-kids/water stories too. It's a really common problem, especially this time of year. I think it's good that people create some more awareness of it, so I think how this kind of stuff can happen (and might be prevented for those who don't realize it can happen) is worth raising in a forum like this.
In the meantime, I think the point about your own scare shouldn't be what might have happened. I should be what DIDN'T happen. Since it didn't happen, don't let it take more out of you than it already has.
Never once did I take my eyes off of her, I knew where she was at all times so I never fully relied on the instructors. I know accidents happen and quick. My point is that I just feel as though she is a second part of me and I don't ever want to even think of these things happening to her. It gave me a jolt of thankfulness and made me re-think how I process my reactions and decisions to react in situations like these. I'm not going to hold her back from doing swim lessons next summer, when she's four. I'll just be sure to have my bathing suit on at all times, in case there is such a thing as "play-time" again where the kids are allowed to run around not fully supervised. Thank you for sharing.
Don't worry about the hesitation. The fact is that you reacted, you were there for your child and everything is ok! And don't dwell on this too long! You probably do a lot of great Mommy things!
We are always hard on ourselves as parents and we need to remember that part of allowing our children to grow to be healthy, confident people is to allow them to take risks within reason. You allowed your child to do that. There were many safety parameters put in place and they worked in the end. That's not to say that there aren't times when tragedies do occur but you can't allow your child to stop experiencing life.
I can only imagine the terror that you must have felt but don't beat yourself up about it. You were watching and aware and your daughter was not in danger for very long. Kudos to you for being an attentive parent.
cardelean - I agree very much. I'm definitely hard on myself, which seems to be the opposite of what my parents were on themselves when they were raising me! But that's the point, I want to be attentive and protective to a certain degree, but I do want her to experience things in life and not restrict her from everything like many parents do. Then the kid grows up to be sheltered, spoiled, and scared of life in general. Our job as parents is to raise a child to be sufficient and be able to care for themselves thoroughly. Not push them to rely on us for the rest of their lives for every aspect in their lives. Thanks for writing and your support.
Kitty you sound like a lovely mum, I think your being there saved her from a worse experience, I think your calling her name might have alerted the person (who at that moment was supposed to be taking responsibility for her) to do something quickly. You were there and you would have gone in and saved her if the instructor had not gone to help her. I think we all pause to assess a situation before we take action, I think it was probably less time than you thought it was.
2uesday, thanks for your kind words of support. I do think that I'm a very attentive mother and know that I was about to jump in, I just tend to second guess my decisions and think, "what could I have done better?" It's almost with any decision I make as a mother. And I definitely have the notion in me to think and process what to do in a situation before I act, it's sort of the way I am with everything. I'm not an impulsive person at all. In situations like those, I sometimes wish I was though! Thanks, again. You rock.
I personally think that children should NOT be in the pool that is higher than their neck until they learn how to swim. And it should be done as soon as possible.Otherwise you should always be in the water with your child. ALWAYS. No one knows your child better than you, you should be in the pool and have your eyes on him/her constantly! Child can drown in a matter of seconds! It's a horrible experience I do not wish anybody to have. Do not rely on anybody, it's your child, watch him! I had that horrible experience with 2 of my kids. Both times it was entirely my fault. My oldest son was 5, he was not swimming yet and I bought him a swimming mattess to play in the river in my grandmother's town. It was a nice summer day, in my old country (then), river was not so fast or large, but it was deep enough. And I let my son swim on that cursed mattress and I was standing on a shore with my clothes on watching him swimming on it, farer and farer from the shore, without realising, stupid head, what might happen if he slips down from that thing! and he did just that. There were lots of people around, no one paid a slightest attention to his cries of help. I jumped after him with my sandals and clothes on, trying to get to him as soon as possible. It was like 20-30 metres between us but I swam it forever... I will never forget that. I saved my son. He would have drowned if I wasn't there at the river. We did not have any life guards there, it was not an "official" beach. When we came home I cut that mattress into small parts... I still feel guilty, after more than 20 years, and still remember every second of that accident I fully created myself. With my second son? It was very simple. We came to the swimming pool, got undressed and without saying anything he just ran and jumped into the deep end! I could not even open my mouth and say stop or anything, it happened so fast. He was 4 years old and he could not swim yet. That day he learned! He appeared on the surface in 4 seconds before anybody could do anything, I grabbed him and I helped him to get out of the water, he swallowed a lot of it but he learned how to swim, - hard way! I did not feel guilty but rather embarrassed. I should have explained my kid that not every pool you can jump into especially if you cannot swim!.
My firstborn is crazy and willing to try anything. She went face down in a baby pool when she was one and I was right there chatting with another mom. It does happen. Just let it teach you to be more aware next time and be thankful for all those times we have close calls and our kiddos come out ok. You aren't a horrible mommy, just a normal one (You might want to talk to the staff about making parents aware of play time so you can come ready for it, especially for kids this age and skill level.)
Between newborn and 3-5 (don't remember) months old, babies have the natural ability to swim that disappears, if we do not reinforce it, after that age. it's a pity that people usually do not do that. We would never have problems with drowned kids if we could just not let that ability slip away! But not everybody has a pool and not everybody thinks or knows about that, or thinks that it's important.
You are not a terrible mommy and you acted on instinct. She is alive and well all because you were there. You were placed there for a reason during that session and I am thankful you were. It could have been tragic, if you were not. The instructors need to pay closer attention to the small children, you did the right thing so please do not be so hard on yourself.
It’s a while since you posted this and perhaps what everyone has written will have helped you let go of your guilt. But since you asked if anyone had been in a similar situation, I thought I’d share an experience I had when my older daughter was 2 or possibly 3. We entered our usual pool by shallow steps, and at that part the pool itself was shallow enough for her to stand, but this particular day we were at a different pool with similar steps. As we walked down the steps I was holding armbands to put on my daughters arms, but before I had got them on she went down the steps and under the water which neither of us realised was deeper than our usual pool. I can’t actually remember now whether I grabbed her first or she surfaced first. So it could have happened even if you had been with her - children can move quickly.
At the time we went to a swimming class where parents went in with their children and several mothers used to push their children under the water to get them used to it. I didn’t do this as to me it seemed too rough and I thought it would scare my daughter, who is quite sensitive.
It didn’t stop my daughter loving the water though and she still swims several times a week.
One of my best friends and neighbor from high school lost one of her young sons (my God son) to a pool drowning accident in the late 1970s. She was and has ever since been a very different person. Her incident had to do with getting sidetracked by another duty with another of her children. You however, must commend yourself for keeping such a good eye on your child, even the moment of hesitation is normal; after all you had lifeguards and instructors all around her. Your maternal nature is strong and in good form, you had the drive to take that plunge, not trusting her well being to even those pros. I have witnessed moms who become frightened statues in the face of threats to a child's safety, you on the other hand became a mother lion in pursuit of your child's safety. Personally, I would be pretty pissed-off that the pros didn't keep a better eye on my child. Good moms like you are to be treasured, so don't be so hard on yourself. You managed the situation just like a great mother should!
Very glad your daughter came out unscathed, that is the important thing.
Kittythedreamer, I just saw this today. Hey, you definitely are a GOOD MOTHER. The fact that you gave your child the opportunity to have one of life's survival skills which is swimming, makes you great! Your child did not have that expert ability yet, but, because she had that skill already, she would surface. Only, the situation that you saw was, she drowned. And, you saw it that way because you care, you were attentive and you panicked. Your child is brave and she might be adventurous. From what I learned, being adventurous and brave are characteristics of a survivor. She's all that because of you. Naturally, as a mother you will always give her a word of caution. Am sure your child learned too from what happened and knows better next time when in the water.
I took my 10 month old out in the surf this summer in Myrtle Beach. Not a good idea at all! We got knocked down by a huge wave and tumbled under water with the wave for a couple of seconds (felt like hours to me) All I could focus on was lifting my baby up to the surface. When we finally made it up, he seemed unaffected by what just happened, but I was totally freaking out. We didn't go out that far anymore after that, you just can't trust the ocean! The event really affected me after the fact...I had a break down when I was giving him a bath the next night - i just felt like I had lost control of my baby - I couldn't make that wave stop or I couldn't prevent it from knocking us down. What you are feeling is normal.
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