In One Moment – Pool Day Scare

In One Moment - Pool Day ScareIn One Moment – Pool Day Scare

I spent the morning playing in the surf with my children, building a sand castle on the shore, and carefully curating mounds of stiff sand for my youngest to crash her truck into. My husband took them both up for naps and I came back down to the beach to live out my last day of vacation reading, digging my feet into the sand, and riding a few waves. I even ended up snorkeling with a sting ray that had come up for a late afternoon meal. It was the perfect last day.

Once the girls woke up I told my husband to meet me at the pool so we could enjoy the last few hours of vacation together. I am forever a salt water and sand girl but my kids prefer the fresh clearness of the pool. Diving for rings and floating around pretending to be mermaids are their favorite parts of swimming. 

My youngest was in the midst of potty training and had not asked to go to the bathroom at the pool all week long. That day she asked if she could go potty. Out of the ordinary for my typically strict pool routine. I took her float jacket off and we went to the bathroom. She didn’t even use the restroom at that moment, she really just wanted to be a big girl like her sissy. As we walked back to the pool, she asked me if Daddy could take her to the potty too. Thinking my husband saw us walk up I chimed, “Sure baby go ask him,” chuckling to myself about how silly she is for wanting to return to the bathroom. At that moment he was sitting on the pool stairs. I didn’t see him take off seconds later to the other side of the pool with my oldest daughter. I was completely unaware that he didn’t see or hear us.

One minute I was answering family about exciting dinner plans and the next something pulled me to look up. Danger. I felt it before I even saw it with my own eyes. 

I can tell you the quickness in my movements the moment I locked eyes with my daughter bobbing just next to the stairs of the pool. I can tell you the relief I felt when she cried out after I retrieved her. I can tell you the immediate shame I felt when she was throwing up massive amounts of water. I can tell you about the fear and panic radiating through me when she fainted after throwing up. I can tell you the relief I felt when the ER physician said we did everything right in this scenario, including my daughter, who managed to keep herself afloat and face-up while she was in the pool. My daughter seemed to be calm and trying to back float. Later, she told me she fell in. 

I believe my children have a healthy respect for the water, but accidents and weird instances still weasel their way in no matter how careful you tend to be. I told her to go to the pool stairs. I told her to go ask her dad without thinking to put on her float jacket. It wouldn’t have mattered the type of swim float. It still would have been a miss by me. I’m the reason she was put in a dangerous situation, but I’m also the reason I jumped nearly out of my skin to save her. 

Every day since then I look at my youngest with a tightness in my chest. My eyes randomly swell with tears as flashbacks riddle my mind with my carelessness. The mom guilt after an accident can tear you to shreds.

The one moment I took my eyes away from her changed me forever. Days after the accident the what if’s of the situation kept me wrapped tightly around her as she slept at night. I cried when I dropped her off at camp the week after because if I can’t even keep her safe, how is someone else supposed to do it? The shame I felt when she played out her neardrowning with her bath toys broke me into a thousand pieces. It’s only been a few weeks since the incident and I’m still walking around under the cloud of guilt. When accidents like this happen, as mothers, we carry that weight and it is incredibly hard to take it back off even after everything turns out ok. 

I hope none of my fellow moms deal with any close-call accidents. But if you do I’m here to remind you that the accident may have happened but you got through it. You have a right to wallow in your mistakes, but you also deserve to remember that you are a great mom, your kids are lucky to have you, and your mom intuition and quick action will win out as positives in these situations.

Even if we don’t do everything right, we will do everything we can. Sometimes that is the most important thing in a moment like this. 

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Kelly VanBeek
Kelly is an aspiring free spirit, a metro-Atlanta native, and stay-at-home-mom to a mischievous 3-year-old and spirited 6-year-old. When she is not chasing her kiddos through Walt Disney World, you can find her running on a trail, scoping out local markets, cheering on the Atlanta Braves and Georgia Tech football, reading, writing, and sipping iced coffee. She lives with her husband of 11 years, her two daughters, and their fur-kids: two dogs named Molly and Jack and a cat named Caesar.