Just keep swimming. It was the mantra in the movie Finding Nemo. I find it is often a suitable mantra for mothers. It can be interpreted in many ways. It can mean “Hey you’re swimming and you’re doing a fine job at it. Keep it up.” It can mean, “Swimming isn’t easy, but keep at it and you’ll get it right.” Or it could mean, “Swimming is easy for fish. It means you’re breezing along. Life is good. Things are great. Nothing’s going to knock you down.” Or it can mean “If you’re trying to keep swimming, you’re basically drowning and that sucks. No one wants to struggle to breathe.”
Lately it seems I find a lot of situations to tell myself to just keep swimming. Sometimes it’s encouraging, sometimes it is a last resort, hang-in-there kinda thing. Maybe I’m hitting one of these mid-life crises I’m always hearing about. I did turn 41 this year. I lost someone close to me with cancer. I’ve seen others I know lose children or parents. I’ve had family move away. My kids are moving on to different points in their lives. It’s been a lot of changes. As I’m typing I am looking down at my hands and for the first time realizing that they are starting to look old. The years spent at a keyboard and cracking knuckles are showing.
I’ve also had kind of a revelation this year that I’ve discovered that it is okay to speak up and say what’s on your mind. It’s not wrong to express when you think something is wrong. Maybe that new Katy Perry song is getting to me because I can tell I’ve been “roaring” when I feel something needs to be said. No one is spared – relatives, friends in social clubs, other volunteers, parenting peers, my son’s girlfriend. I always used to keep quiet and not speak up and if I did, I always replayed the conversation in my head 100 times, regretting what was said. Now I’m kind of just saying it and not regretting it. Just putting it out there and dealing with it, which is so not my style – or hasn’t been.
It’s said that we moms go through many “seasons” in our lives and I can tell that I’ve moved out of one season and into another. And, in transition there are choices we can all make. We all need to keep swimming, but it’s up to us if we sink, simply tread water or jump in head first and go full speed ahead until we finish the lap.