To my fellow swim team mom, I’m sorry I’m so awkward.
I got a swift reminder this week, I write better than I speak. I spend hours crafting, shaping pieces of written art, carving until it’s the best version of words strung together I can possibly produce. It takes time, grace and commitment. It’s a sacred process, of sculpting the “perfect” piece. And even when it’s perfect I still go back later to mold and shape what I believe could always be better.
In reality though, I am not graceful.
In fact… I’m clumsy, I laugh loudly, I can’t contain my emotions, or my voice. I cry, A LOT. I speak my mind, I yell, I’m overly expressive, and all that lives inside of me must be set free!
I’m the queen of the weirdos. I can’t hide it. And I stopped trying long ago.
Maybe it’s the endless hours of conversations with tiny tots under the age of 9.
Maybe I got tired of pretending to have it all together a long time ago.
Maybe, I just forgot the kindergarten 101 lesson, the class on “how to make friends”. I was probably out on account of weirdness that day.
But present day, we’re at swim team practice, 2 moms just trying to communicate. Me the rookie and you the wise veteran opening up your best swim mom advice to me.
I felt it, that buzz you get when your making a genuine heart connection with someone new. You were so nice, and in this cut throat mommy shaming world, it’s so hard to make real mom friends. I was excited to talk to a real adult and have a real conversation with another human over 3 ft tall.
I wanted desperately to be accepted, into this swim tribe. You were teaching me about the “team app” and I was excitedly nodding along, while fumbling with my “fancy” timer trying to look “cool” in my new role, and maybe for a second, I was. (I wasn’t).
From the corner of my eye is my kid. He’s freaking out. He’s furiously throwing eye daggers burning like hot pokers into my temple, my whole world went dark.
You were still talking, I think. I suddenly couldn’t focus on anything else. I apologized to you and went on about how angry he was for “making him do this”. You politely listened while I struggled with whether to go talk to him. I’m burning up from the inside knowing he’s upset, wondering if this is the moment he’ll look back on in 10 years and tell me I handled this all wrong. He’s attempting to hide his tears. I wanted him to feel safe enough to work this out on his own, but part of me was seeking encouragement in that effort, I suppose.
Eventually I said, “he’s on the spectrum” hoping that would provide some context. The little voice inside is begging me to stop talking, but I couldn’t stop. On and on I pulled you right into my mommy meltdown.
I didn’t slow down from pouring this out to you, a stranger. And you blinked at me, being so understanding, patient and considerate. Your eyes went big, “Ooooh spectrum! I thought you were talking about a team!”
And in the whirlwind of my already glaring awkwardness I blurt without thinking, “Yea! Team Autism!” And laughed out loud at myself to let you know I’m being funny! Until I realized maybe I’m not so funny….
I’m not sure what you thought. Through the frenzy of the event the conversation ended. I was standing there alone, and all I could do was laugh at myself. Because team AWKWARD had struck again. There it was out in front of me, a fresh reminder of who I REALLY am, and that will never change!
So thank you swim mom, for your patience. I’m so grateful to you, and to all who rallied around Francis in his first mock meet. I’m thankful for your encouragement and support. Because at the end of the day, the ONLY thing that matters is, he DID get up on that block, dive in and swim! Everyone in that gym witnessed him and I’m so glad he had the chance to overcome his fears! Thank you for inspiring him to move beyond his comfort zone and take a literal leap of faith. Thank you for letting me stumble and reveal my true blue “too much” nature. Thank you for kindness. And to my fellow swim team mom, I hope I get another chance to “impress” you again one day.
Although let’s face it, I’ll probably say something terribly awkward again then too!