The other day I took my kids to the pool. I watched them go down the water slides... all by themselves. I sat by myself at a table watching them play for a good, long while.
They swam with friends, laughing, playing and generally just having a blast. It was an awesome thing to witness!
I sat, admiring their strength, their confidence in the water, their social prowess, their independence... and it was so exciting! And in that moment, I realized that (in this context anyway) they don't need me to hold them and support them anymore. This is the first summer where they are experienced enough to have full, free reign in the pool and I don't need to be anywhere in sight.
As I watched them playing, I thought of a few short years ago and the floaty vests they had to wear. I thought of having to keep them within arms reach, and of helping them keep their tiny heads above water. I thought of being the center of their universe and their innocent fun in that watery wonderland.
Now I sat on the edge of the pool, far away from the end of the slide and watched their unbridled glee as they slid down again and again with friends and didn't even bother to wave to me at the bottom as they were so engrossed in their new, exciting, friend-filled, watery world.
At that moment, as I sat at the edge of the pool, I looked down into the water to see a tattoo on the shoulder of one of the young life guards stationed there. As I waited for my babies to round the corner, I read "Inhale the future, exhale the past."
Inhale the future.
Exhale the past.
Tattoos are art imprinted on human skin. Permanent for a time, but ultimately as fleeting as our time here on the planet. As art tends to guide most of the important moments in my life, it is fitting that in that moment, this small piece of permanent/impermanent art told me exactly what I needed to know. In that confusing, joyful, painful, universal moment that every parent has, when they realize their babies are not really "theirs" at all, but they really belong to the world - this little tattoo said the words that I needed at exactly the right time. That little piece of art on the shoulder of a teenager told me not to lose myself in what isn't anymore, but to take a breath, celebrate and move forward with all of the bright possibility ahead.
It was interesting to me that this young person had this profound tattoo in a spot where she coudn't even see it, but it was exactly where I needed it to be in that moment. I wonder at the thought process behind putting something so permanent on your body in a place that you can't even see, but that is a reminder to the rest of the world about how to move forward. I complimented her on it as she got out of the pool a bit later and she casually said thanks. As she walked away, I looked back to the slide to see my kid happily rounding the corner again and making a huge, majestic splash at the bottom.
The future is sweet. The past is sweet too... and while there is exhilaration in breathing in the beautiful possibility of what is to come, it is simultaneously painful to exhale all that you are leaving behind.
So stop in those moments, breath and appreciate where you are.
Time goes so fast.
© 2017 Krysta Bernhardt. All Rights Reserved.