By Laura Moore
For the last two and half weeks, I've sat on the edge of a pool and watched my fourteen month old son flail his arms and cry relentlessly.
I've held my breath as I've seen his head go under water and his body sink.
And I've quieted my instincts each time he looks at me, desperately, his eyes pleading for me to swoop in, his arms extending toward me, begging for me to save him.
But I want him to learn how to hold his breath, roll over and float.
I want his body to know how to react if the unfathomable were to happen, if he slipped away from me, if he tumbled into the water.
I want him to be confident in the face of danger.
And because I want all of that, I've been sitting on the sidelines. I've had to relinquish control. I've had to watch my son struggle through each phase of the Infant Swimming Resource program. I've had to let a professional tweak his positioning and refine his instincts. I've had to let him test my son's boundaries. I've had to give him permission to guide little Z as he learns to try and fail, to overcome and succeed.
But watching is hard.
Even though my husband and I researched the program thoroughly, each time I hear Z melt down, I question our decision. I worry about choosing the wrong path. Our son hardly ever cries. He nails his head on the floor, he cuts his finger, he bruises his legs and he never utters a peep. But these lessons reduce him to sobs. These challenges cut right into his core. He wails mercilessly each time he enters the pool, each time he rises from the water, each time he's directed to float on his back. And as I sit there and watch, I feel like a horrible mother. I feel like I should stop it, like I should intervene.
But when I look closely, I notice open hands instead of closed fists. I notice he's floating longer and longer. He's holding his breath. He's rolling over. He's improving. And so even though his tears are heartbreaking, deep down, I'm quite confident he's okay. Even if he seems to hate it, I can't deny that he's stepping up to the plate. He's doing everything he's being asked to do, and the instructor compliments him relentlessly, telling me his right he's on track. And so even if I feel a taunting urge to stop coming--to return him back to a world full of sunshine and rainbows--I suppress the temptation. I continue to drive across town. I continue to let him fight the good fight. I decide not to intervene, not to soften the road, not to get in the way. I swallow the very real truth that life is full of falling and feeling and struggle. It is littered with opportunities to either sink or to fly. And so as tempting as it is to keep Z under my control--to perpetually put him in position to succeed--that's not my job as a parent; my job is to expose him to challenges, to teach him how to endure, to give him the space to overcome. It is to provide him with developmentally appropriate chances to test his abilities, to learn from his environment, and to grow into a confident, capable and compassionate young man.
And so as hard as it is to sit there and watch him struggle, as tempting as it is to pull him out of the pool, I know this is only the first of many times that I will need to sit back. The first of many times when I'll need to let go. The first of many times when I'll hold my breath as I take off the water wings, as I give him the chance to rise up from the depths, to lift his head and float.
By Laura Moore
So yesterday, I blanked.
I missed my spinning class. I forgot it was blog day.
I immersed myself, instead, in an essay I plan to submit to an anthology, and during my "clear my head for a second to get perspective" breaks, I handled household tasks and posted pictures of clothes I wanted to sell on the buy-trade-sell site that, in my humble opinion, is the greatest idea since, well...I don't know...sliced bread?
My husband took off Monday, my son's Monday morning swim lesson got canceled, and bills that I normally pay on Monday were due on Tuesday this week...so the first day of my week felt like a Sunday in every possible way. The zoo was packed with people on spring break and the skies were a delicious shade of Carolina blue that skies seem to be on perfect Sunday afternoons (for all of you other Ohioans, yes, I am living in a fantasy).
So when Tuesday came around and normal activities resumed, it felt like a Monday. I was paying bills, we were going to lessons, my husband and I were back to work. It was the start of our week, and though the following day (yesterday) felt like a Wednesday to everyone else, to me it felt very Tuesday-ish, like I was still easing in, not like I was standing on the top of the hill.
But at about 9 pm last night, I realized I botched the whole thing. Oh my God it's Wednesday, I remember thinking as I sat on the floor folding laundry. I couldn't do anything about spinning, but I could do something about my blog. So I jumped up immediately. I left piles behind and plopped down at my computer, poised to pound out my weekly post. I sat down to scurry out something that would inch its way into cyberspace before the clock struck midnight, before the clock informed me that I was late, before the clock converted my computer into a pumpkin.
I sat there, eager and anxious, waiting for the site to load. My heart somersaulted behind my ribs and my palms itched with sweat. I don't miss deadlines, I mouthed to no one in particular, and the chant grew louder and louder with every fruitless second of waiting for the cursor to blink. The mere thought of falling short of my Wednesday promise made me squeamish and uncomfortable. I am the sort of lunatic who follows through relentlessly, I told myself, even when it makes no sense.
But the page wasn't cooperating. The cursor spun for what felt like an eternity, and a blank, white screen hovered before my eyes. I bounced my leg in triple time, and I stared at the clock taunting me from the upper right hand corner of my screen. "HURRY UP!" I whisper-shouted through clenched teeth, and once three full minutes escaped me, I began tapping closed fists against the edge of the keyboard as if the pounding would dislodge whatever was causing the signal to tangle.
Eventually, I just sat back.
And just before the fourth minute tumbled over the hill, my computer's airport lights all flashed to black, the screen filled with color, and my fingers climbed out of my palms and pressed against the keys. The page was loaded. The canvas was ready for my ink. The time was still ticking in my favor.
9:04, I remember thinking. You got this...
But strangely enough, I didn't have anything. I had no inclination to proceed.
See, the further I got from the third minute--the fully frenzied oh-my-god-if-this-stupid-page-doesn't-load-in-the-next-second-I'm-going-to-lose-my-mind minute--and the closer I got to the fourth one, the more I realized how absurd my anxiety was. I realized that even if I sat there and wrote for the next two or three hours, even if I managed to click "share" before the calendar flipped to the next page, no one would be awake to read it. No one was standing there in cyberspace with wooden ruler smacking against her palm. No one--at least no one who really mattered--would think less of me because I decided to accept my mistake and try again tomorrow.
I imposed the deadline on myself and I missed it.
The window was gone, even if I wrote the post and the page still said Wednesday, even if the chance for the "time-stamp" was technically still there, even if I had a streak to continue and my word to uphold.
When I whittled away the semantics and faced the honest truth, the reality was that I had dropped the ball, that I had broken my promise, that I was out of time to follow through.
But none of that was a life or death situation. None of that warranted the amount of angst and guilt that coursed through me. Sure, it was a matter of pride and principle, and those things matter a whole heck of a lot, but no one got hurt on account of my mistake. No one was inconvenienced. No one's life was any worse because I lost track of time. In fact, no one, besides me, probably spent more than a second--if that--thinking about the fact I didn't release my words into cyberspace yesterday. And so while I shouldn't make absentmindedness a habit, I also shouldn't allow an instant of absentmindedness to crumble me to pieces.
I'm human and I screwed up.
Sometimes I will fall short--just like everyone else--but when I'm lucky enough to wake up and try again, when I'm lucky enough to get another day stuffed with everything that is truly important, I need to just take it. I need to let myself run full throttle into Thursday. I need to scream to the universe, "Okay, that's gone, but I got this. I'm back."
I don't need to negative self-talk myself into the ground. I don't need to question my aptitude. I don't need to think of a thousand ways to apologize or rationalize.
I just need to breathe...
And then smile...
And then pull up my calendar, so I can enter in a reminder, so I can let myself roll right over the mid-week hump, so I can pick myself (and my pride) up, and hop right on along.
By Laura Moore
Bullies no longer possess unequivocal power:
They cannot act without consequence.
They do not have the ability to silence.
They do not have the strength to keep people down against their will.
For years, humans have been taunted, teased, beat-up, and fear and ignorance have provoked reprehensible actions. Shouts have silenced whispers, power has pulverized promise and tradition has trounced on new ideas. Bigger hands have been able to muffle smaller mouths. Bigger arms have been able to restrain smaller wrists. And bigger players in the clubhouse of tradition have been able to knock out the resistance, to push it into back rooms, to tuck it under the rug, to silence it, to keep it from rising up and into plain sight.
But not anymore.
See, in the midst of our current dialogue about sexual assault on college campuses, most notably at both the University of Virginia and Columbia University, and our dialogue about how #blacklivesmatter following what happened in Ferguson, Missouri, Cleveland, Ohio, and New York City, New York, and our dialogue about the racist songs sung by the Oklahoma University Sigma Alpha Epsilon brothers
, and about the dialogue that followed a flurry of hateful messages combatted by a student at my alma mater, I couldn't help but notice something has changed. Something IS different.
Something is a little bit new.
See, today--even with all of its flaws, even with all of the new ways people can be harassed--social media has offered space for smaller mouths to shout, space for tiny wrists to fight, space for the untraditional voices to rise. Everything is public, every action can be captured, every behavior is part of the script, part of the dialogue, part of a million other lives. The doors have been opened, the curtains have been drawn, private rooms are no longer private, and words and actions are no longer susceptible to forgetfulness or editing or denial...they are fossilized, screen shotted, backed up, recorded. They are part of a public record. The are part of us all.
As I hear "bullies" who have been caught speak out about their mistakes, as I hear of this person
and this person
getting fired from their jobs
on account of their hateful comments, as I see the onslaught of support for people who had the courage to speak out, I realize that the power is shifting. The mute button has been turned off and the volume has been raised. The status quo is being questioned and the masks that once kept us from seeing the truth--the sometimes ugly truth--are wearing thinner and thinner.
Love it or hate it, we live in a transparent cage, a snow globe of interconnectedness. There is nowhere for us to go, to hide from the lens, and while there are droves and droves of reasons why that's a bad thing, today, I can't stop thinking about how it's good. About how it makes us accountable. About how it has shifted power into the hands of those who were once powerless.
It has given us a mirror and a window. It teaches us--it shows us--over and over, that words and actions bleed with permanent ink. So despite all of the hateful chatter and the disheartening actions, despite all of the reasons I have to fear the excessive accessibility we have, despite all of the ways I resist our lack of privacy, I can't help but feel hopeful. I can't help but imagine change is on the horizon. I can't help but see a world where goodness, kindness and compassion will ultimately prevail.
By Laura Moore
Every now and then, it's nice to find yourself in love with something you're not particularly good at.
It's nice to show up and know you won't be in the top percentile, you won't be impressing your neighbor, you won't be leaving with your head held high, and an inner monologue of "I got this; what should my next challenge be?" running through your head.
Sometimes it's nice to enjoy something for the sake of trying, for the sake of being vulnerable, for the sake of pushing boundaries. It's nice to fall somewhere in the middle, to feel challenged and still have a lot of room to climb.
As a kid, I did everything I could to avoid that. I played sports where I excelled. I took classes that catered to my strengths. I volunteered to participate in activities I knew I could lead. When I sensed that I wouldn't do well in something, I choose a different path; I devoted my time and energy to a different cause. I had a GPA to worry about, colleges to get into, scholarships to secure.
But somewhere along the way--at Dartmouth, probably, although can't pinpoint the exact moment--I let some of that go. I started to take risks. I signed up for things I didn't know how to do. I failed. Then I picked myself back up and I figured out how to walk forward. I learned that sometimes trying teaches you more than winning, that seeing a huge mountain can sometimes push you farther than staring at stars.
When I moved to New York, my friend Yaidi asked me to take a New School art class with her and I agreed. Each Saturday morning we traveled around the city painting structures in Central Park, sketching faces at the MET and at the South Ferry Station, and capturing the city any way we could as we gazed out the wall of windows on the 92 floor of the North Tower. At the end of the last class, I still wasn't a competent artist, but my heart felt fuller in my chest.
When I moved back to Columbus, I decided to train for a marathon and I knew so little about the process, I didn't even realize you could run anything other than a charity 5K, a 5 mile Turkey Trot or the full twenty-six, so I didn't know people ran halfs or 10Ks or 15Ks. I didn't know this was something most people baby-stepped into. I just went for it all, knowing with each run that my friend Mandy and I were running farther than we ever had in our lives. We made mistakes, got hurt and learned on the fly. When the race results showed up in the paper on October 20, 2003, ours names were no where near the top, but they were there, and we earned it and somehow that felt a whole lot more than enough.
Today, my challenge is spinning. Today, its showing up at Cycle 614, losing myself in 80s music and glowing beneath the black lights. It's arriving in running spandex rather than biker shorts. It's tying up tennis shoes, not clipping in cleats. It's finding my name half way down the performance list of cyclists even though I'm pushing myself just as hard as I can.
I had to miss the last few weeks because it's been a doozy of a winter, but today when I arrived, I felt energy buzzing inside of me, and somewhere along the line as Katie, our instructor, pounded out the tunes and told us to turn up the resistance, as I pushed for more RPMs and challenged myself to keep my screen "red," as I strained for breath and felt my legs cry for mercy, my entire body filled to the brim.
"Last push," Katie said, counting down the sprint. I drove my legs as hard as they would go and when the time expired and I lifted up to stretch and breathe, I looked over at the final results. Tracing the trail of bike numbers, I searched for mine, and surprisingly it was only eight spots down on the list.
My best performance yet, I thought, smiling.
I'm so okay at this.
And that's absolutely fine.