Alternate Breathing

This post was inspired by Red Writing Hood. Red Writing Hood is a writing meme. It can be fiction or non-fiction and the word limit is 600. This writing prompt is sponsored by The Red Dress Club. The topic this week was physical beauty.

Alternate Breathing

She is wrapped in a towel before practice, waiting patiently on deck while her new coach introduces herself, explains what is expected. Her body stays hidden until she carefully slips into the water, shedding her protective skin poolside.

I hold my breath, watching.

She is a speck in the water, her blue capped head bobbing up and down the lane. Arms dart out in front, one after the other, stroke after stroke, stroke after stroke. Legs pedaling hard. It looks tedious. I am doubtful this new interest will last. There is no precedent indicating she will work hard, exert herself more than what is minimally required. Sure, we’ve been attending soccer games for nine years, but it is not a strong desire to be aggressive that drew her to the goalie position. She doesn’t like to run. Luckily, she had size on her side, wasn’t afraid to use her body to block balls, or barrel over other girls. And her legs are strong. Kicks sail across the field. Soccer uniforms are big and baggy, hide lots of flaws. She blended in with her teammates. Now she is older, and her teammates’ figures have begun to emerge, their height stretching them lean. She feels conspicuous in her roundness.

I tell her all the time she is beautiful, but she doesn’t  feel it, doesn’t see it.

“You’re my mom, you have to say that,” she says in frustration.

Shopping for practice swim-suits ended in tears. Her flushed face, and sweaty cheeks, exited the fitting room as she threw the discarded items at me.

“I hate them all.”

I hold my breath, try not to respond harshly.

Now, she is standing before me, towel-less, dripping wet. Her breathing is hard and even. It has been a long two-hours.

“Well? How was it?” I ask apprehensively.

“Awesome! I definitely want to join the team, ” she says catching her breath, smiling.

“Why? Tell me why you want to be on the swim team.”

I’m cringing at the thought of 7:45 a.m. summer practices all week and hours and hours sitting on hard bleacher seats watching meets. I’m picturing her whining about wanting to quit halfway through the season.

“Because it was so peaceful in the water, mom. All I could hear was my body, ” she says, ” I felt strong. I felt weightless.”

I finally exhale.

16 thoughts on “Alternate Breathing

  1. That feeling is why I love swimming under water. Scuba diving is so… peaceful.

    I used to imagine I was a mermaid… a lot.

    I’m so glad she found something she loved, and your words in describing it… Stunning.

    And don’t even get me started on bathing suits.

  2. I feel for that girl. I’ve been there. I’m still kind of there.

    And trying on swimsuits ? I still hate them all 😉

    Thank you for your comment on my post too. 🙂

    Vikki @ She Has Cute Shoes!

  3. “You’re my mom, you have to say that,” I wish I had a dollar for every time I told my mom that growing up! So I can definitely relate. So glad she was able to find her outlet of happiness.

  4. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this is what she’s needed all along? Hope she continues to find that peace. Very lovely description, Ems. Loved it!

  5. This is such a difficult time for girls to go through-I saw it with my own beautiful daughter. Up until a little over a year ago, she was still the round one in her group of friends and it was hard. Shopping for clothes was a humiliating experience, and some of the comments family members made were so unkind. But then she blossomed-absolutely blossomed! She found rock climbing along the way-awkward at first, but now it’s her passion and she has a real talent for it. She is quite a special person-and always beautiful to me:)

    Loved this piece you wrote!

  6. Oh thank goodness! Thanks goodness for that ending. I felt for this girl so very much and am so, so glad that she found her spark!

  7. Oh, Emily, this is beautiful! What a wonderful moment you’ve shared here. The tension of watching your daughter navigate this difficult (and seemingly endless) part of her life is palpable. I actually held my own breath as I read, though I didn’t realize it until I released it in a big sigh of relief at the end. I find myself appearing in this same movie — different cast, different setting, all-too-familiar plot — and I pray for an equally miraculous resolution to the scene that’s currently playing out. I feel much more hopeful after reading your story! Thanks! 🙂

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