I have a confession.
I like to talk.
Okay, the truth is I like to talk ... a lot.
I always have something to say, and more often than not, I say it.
I'm that lady that says "bless you" when there's a sneeze in the room.
I'm that annoying voice that commiserates with the mom with the crying baby in line at the drugstore.
I make eye contact and say hello to strangers who hold doors open for me.
I can't help it, my mom is the same. I guess it's safe to say it's in my genes.
I have a hard time minding my tongue, especially in situations where I feel knowledgeable.
Have a question about how to teach your kid to read?
I'm your girl!
Interested in breastfeeding?
I can help.
Would you like your three year old to swim?
Let me reach into my bag of tricks and share.
It's hard for me not to say anything. At times this is a good thing, but there are times where I need to keep my big mouth shut.
Less is more.
I'm not always the one in charge, even though I often believe I could do a better job.
I need to show restraint.
I need to shut up.
She looks up to me as I sit on the stands, a few feet from the water's edge. Her blue eyes widen as her instructor guides her on her back.
"Like a starfish Mo."
Legs frantic, as the rest of her body stiffens, uncomfortable in the water.
Calm down, Baby. Just relax. It's no different than in the ocean.
Her chest rises and falls quickly. The panic obvious. As she calms, her breathing relaxes and returns to normal.
Her body tight, strong, and flat, like the starfish she is attempting to replicate.
I knew you could do it Lovie. You are so strong and you don't realize it. Keep going! Keep going!
Climbing back onto the side, "Good job Mo" her teacher relays.
Looking back to me, she finds my eyes. I smile and give her two thumbs up. Turning around, she watches as another girl complete the same starfish.
As her turn comes around again, she is asked to swim on her front. The flotation bubble that had been her lifeline the past three sessions, has been abandoned. Now she is required to swim by herself.
The big eyes make their return.
Reach, kick, calm yourself down. Keep that kick strong and really reach Mo!
Sliding in the safe way, she pushes off towards her instructor.
Making her way to the lane lines without much assistance. She is doing it. She is swimming independently.
Wooohooo! Watch out Missy Franklin, here come's Mo. You're awesome kid! Awesome!
Turning around she heads back. The same frantic, panic look on her face, the same eyes the size of saucers, but her arms and legs, strongly paddling and kicking their way back to the safety of the wall.
"Good job Mo!" the instructor casually mentions as she makes her way to the next girl in line.
This was the first time she's done this! She's never made it that far by herself before. Don't you realize this is a monumental milestone. 8.11.12- the day Mo swam independently from the wall to the lane lines. It's kind of a big deal, worth more than a randomly spoken, 'Good job'. It's a great job, a phenomenal job, an fantastic job.
Pulling herself up on the gutter, she sits and watches for a moment. Turning around, she looks directly at me,
"Did you see me? Did I do a good job?" she pleads.
If you only knew how proud I am of you right now. I want the crowd to give you a standing ovation.
"Great job, now pay attention!" I say.
The class continues. Mo pays attention...most of the time, occasionally conversing with the girls on either side of her. (Like mother, like daughter).
Raising her hand, she answers questions. She volunteers to go first, again and again. She tries. She swims. She floats. She kicks and then she readies herself for the jumps.
Looking back to me, I wink. My support nonverbal for a change.
Reaching her arms out to the instructor in the water, she does a double take before she is able to subside her hesitations and throws her body towards the instructor with reckless abandon. Under she sinks, and then pops up, those eyes show the fear, the excitement, the energy.
Kicking and pulling she makes her way back to the wall, and pulls herself up.
She repeats the action again and again for the last five minutes of class. Dismissing the class, the teacher offers, one last "good job today!", before the little bodies return to their respective families.
Wrapping the yellow towel around her saturated body, I squeeze her a bit.
"Are you so proud?" she asks.
You'll never know baby. Every day, every single thing you do, my heart swells with pride. Every little accomplishment has me swooning over you. You are simply awesome. I am in awe of what you've done today.
But instead of compliment on top of compliment. I show some restraint today.
"Am I proud?" I ask. "So, so very proud, Mo! You did awesome!"
That's enough for the smile to take over her face.
I didn't have to say everything that came to mind. I can relax and let her go, let her be taught, and let her listen to someone other than me. I can say less. I can be an observer.
I can let my silence speak for itself.