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Lifelines by Noreen Heffernan

“You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.”― William Faulkner

We have a swing set in our backyard with a pretty fast slide. Every single time my 2 year old gets to the top, she calls for me to catch her and I get up from what I’m doing to catch her. I get it, it’s fast and she is a bit scared. About a week ago, I said to her, “You know, you are a big girl now and I think you can go down the slide yourself.” She said, “No, mama catch me.” So, I said, “I’m going to help you do it by yourself.” Each time she went down the slide, I stood a little further from her. Finally, I said, “You are ready. I’ll be right here.” I stood away from the slide and with a hesitant but determined look, she went down. She landed on her feet. I clapped and cheered and my other daughter clapped and cheered for her as well. I have never seen such a look a pride on her face. She knew she did something special. In her little world, she took a momentous step. She went down the slide for an hour after that (about 50 times) and for that hour, we clapped for her every single time. We clapped and clapped and clapped. We clapped until our hands hurt.

And now, she is sliding with one hand and with a huge independent heart. She took a risk. Isn’t that what life is about; because without even the smallest risk, we can’t see the reward.

My 4 year old daughter was having nightmares. I sat in bed with her, knowing that she wanted to sleep in bed with us. I said to her, “there is nothing to be afraid of except being afraid.” I said, “Nothing has changed here, this is your safe and cozy house. We are right downstairs if you need us. Be brave.” Of course she could have come in my bed, but I didn’t want her to have that fear of her own safe haven. I wanted her to risk it; be in her bed, show herself that she should not be afraid; that there is no reason to be afraid. But, at the same time, know we are here. She slept all night. She has been sleeping soundly ever since.

In both these instances, both of my daughters knew that they had a lifeline. They could risk it, because if they got hurt or were afraid, I would be there. This comfort is why they both did it. They were swimming for new horizons with a raft in their peripheral vision. Me. I’m their raft. This allowed them to lose sight of the shore and swim.

When I thought about them today, I thought about myself. If they can do it, so can I.

I take risks every week by writing with an open heart. My Mom tells me that she cannot believe that I put myself out there every single week without a filter. I could sugarcoat, but I don’t. I believe that it is a part of writing; in order to truly connect, you have to bleed. So I bleed good and bad days. I bleed amazing and not so amazing moments. I bleed real life as a Mom. I risk it. I risk judgment and I risk ridicule. I risk people telling me that I’m not good enough. But I know what I am. I know who I am.

You see because I know that I’m not alone. I have some lifelines. I have people who support me no matter what I say or do. They laugh with me and cry with me. They know who I am. They keep me from fear.

You know who my lifelines are; other moms who get it and my friends and family who support me.

Friendships change over time. They change us. They change the way we think about ourselves. True friendships and love don’t point figures or laugh at mistakes or scold bad moments. They simply trust in the person they believe we are; the real person; not the mad person or the angry person or the person who has a bad moment. They see the real us, always. They allow us to take risks. They allow us to lose sight of the shore. They allow us to be who we are. I know that as we get older, friendships may evolve into something big and bright and beautiful. Or, they can simply turn into an old flickering light. Our circles get smaller. Who we can trust to stay with us on our journeys gets smaller as well. But, the strong, bright lights will survive.

I am grateful for my lifelines, my bright lights, my rafts. They keep me swimming fast and strong. And if I start to drown, I know they will throw me my raft. I’ll hold on tight. Take a breath. Give them a thumbs up. And swim again.

I am grateful that my children, at such a young age, seem to be able to internally grasp this concept as well. They know they have us. We have to make sure our children understand that sometimes sliding down the slide is more than sliding down a slide or sleeping in their bed is more than that. Sometimes it is everything. Sometimes it is a tool to be used throughout life. Close your eyes, gain some strength, and take the risk. If you get hurt or scared, dust yourself off, lean on me and try again. Eventually, you will land on your feet or wake up with a new found trust. And if you don’t, I will be here to help you find your courage. And when you finally swim, I will be in the distance waving with one hand and holding a raft in the other.

“In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take”

~Noreen Heffernan,Writer, MA in Public and Corporate Communications, Certified in PR Writer, Growing Ladies


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