“Macie’s floating!” our neighbor’s oldest boy yells from the pool with excitement, even surprise. I’m blowing up a giant pool slide for the kids when I hear this and it takes about three seconds for my brain to process what he has said.
Macie’s floating? She wasn’t in the pool. We took her floaties off so she could eat a Popsicle. When did she go in?
None of this is making sense.
I stop what I am doing and look over the inflated slide to where all of the kids are playing. I see her. She is face up under about three inches of water. She is making the same face she made as an infant when she faced the wind, a look of surprise while trying to catch her breath. It registers immediately and I start screaming for him to help her.
“Get her! Get her! Get her!” I yell as I run to the edge where she is, not able to get there fast enough, I feel as if I am running through sand. All of the children are frozen in place as I bend down to pick her up. She immediately starts to scream and I give her a once over to make sure she’s ok. No coughing or spitting up water, that’s a good sign. I am crying and hugging her tight. I can’t even tell you anything else that happened in those next few moments. I was holding onto her for dear life, a life that in that moment felt so precious, so fragile.
It’s always chaotic when the kids are in the pool. There are the two boys from next door and one from across the street plus my two girls. My neighbor and I are usually watching them like a hawk, even more so if one of us steps away. I’m not sure why this day was different. Trust me, I’ve played it in my head over and over on loop, trying to understand. I’ve made excuses and justifications to help make sense of it all. At the end of the day it just comes down to an accident. I was distracted and my neighbor had stepped away for two minutes to grab a pump. We had been trying to get this slide up for a while and I was not paying attention. I knew Macie was having a Popsicle and thought she would stay put. Who would have thought she would stop eating a beloved Popsicle to go into the same pool she was just begging to get out of?
All of those thoughts of “that would never happen to me” came crashing down on me like a painful hailstorm. I can’t believe I didn’t watch her more carefully.
Even worse than the feelings of the actual accident were the “What if’s”.
What if he never saw her?
What if he never said anything?
What if she didn’t fall right where they were playing?
What if she hit her head?
What if. What if. What if. I couldn’t say it aloud but I was thinking it, and it hurt. The answer to my question, the worst case scenario is still painful today.
As a mother there are many times I’ve felt I was falling short. Forgetting show and tell after multiple reminders from my daughter the night before. Letting the girls eat cereal for breakfast and dinner on the same day. One too many hours on the tablet or movies while I relaxed on the couch after a long day of work. In each of these instances I felt a small sense of failing at motherhood, but none of these compares to the feeling of that what if. An hour on YouTube or an unhealthy dinner pales in comparison to any of the worst-case scenarios I’ve played in my mind.
I am eternally grateful for how that day ended for us; a quick trip to Urgent Care and a good bill of health. A happy, smiling two year old that has no idea why her Mama is holding onto her so tight. That night I rocked her a little longer than usual and I cried as I smelled the top of her head before laying her down. I thanked God for my ending and then I said a prayer for all of the Mamas that weren’t so fortunate.