Last night I attended my tenth (and last – insert sad face here) Swim Team parent meeting. Harrison has been swimming competitively since he was seven and, as such, I have attended many a season kick-off meeting. Despite having graduated from the JCC to the High School team, the information shared in these meetings has stayed virtually identical; commitment to the team, importance of coming to practice, work hard blah blah blah. The meeting took all of twenty minutes (thirty-five if you take into account driving back and forth to the high school, parking and finding a bathroom in the hallowed halls of academia). Wham bam, done.
It was not until this morning (while sipping my new love: Trader Joe’s Candy Cane Green Tea) that I glanced over the handout and noticed the final line of the Coach’s “Goals and Expectations”:
I hope you will do things you never thought you could.
Hardly a new sentiment, it managed to jumped off the page and to firmly attach itself to my psyche. Eleven basic words in a seemingly simple, even trite, formation which have gotten under my skin…in a good way. Oh, the things I have experienced which I not only never thought I could, but, frankly, never occurred to me to attempt to attempt. For someone who is not exactly adventuresome, I’ve done (some of) my share of things I never thought I could. Just last year (at exactly this time) Jessie had already shared her feelings regarding her gender with me and Rich. At precisely the time she was embracing the sensation of her shoulders dropping from the relief of sharing her “secret” (her words), mine were inching up to my ears at breakneck speed. I was nearly crippled at the mere thought of how we were going to go wider (read: tell anyone) with the information. I was quite sure it was nothing I was ever going to be able to manage, for either my child or, frankly, myself. At the time, I would definitely have filed under: there is absolutely no way I am going to be able to handle this. But, alas, here we are, a full year later, and everyone is still standing. Who’d a thunk it?
Perhaps an even greater (not to mention more impressive and less self-serving) is Jessie’s resolve. I’ve never asked her, but would be willing to bet that for the first several years of her knowing that she needed to transition she never thought it would actually happen. I suspect that her tortured thinking and desires would have fallen safely (yes, I note the irony of word choice) into the “something I can never do” category, yet here she is, a full year into her transition. So deep into it, in fact, that yelling “Jessie” (either to or, if we are being honest, at her) has long since ceased sounding strange and my pronoun slip ups are rare. Truth: referring to my son as “her” and “she” is yet one more thing that I never thought I could do.
The swim coach’s words are, on the surface, meant to encourage the boys to kick, stroke and breathe harder than they ever imagined in the hopes of out-swimming the other teams, but the lesson is so much bigger than that. Just when you lose hope and think you are going to drown, you might just have a little more kick in you which is all you need to reach the end, perhaps even victoriously. My legs and arms are tired. It has been a long and challenging year. There are hours (I began to assess by the hour when I realized that taking it a full day at a time was often more than I could handle) that I am ready for dead-man’s float, but then I remember that I can do this. And so can you.
In the past several weeks alone, friends of mine have faced enormous challenges: unexpected deaths, illnesses which were supposed to have gone away but have reared their ugly heads, lost jobs, broken marriages, sick children and financial struggles. In the words of the swim coach (and my father): you can do this. And in my words: if I can do it (whatever “it” may be)…so, too, can you.
Sending special thoughts and love to: RR, BM, ED, MS, JW and everyone else who is struggling with something big, small or somewhere in between. ❤