“Mommy, there’s water on my legs!”
Said my 4 year old, rear facing toddler wearing his life jacket.
“Oh honey, we’re in a paddle boat, that’s normal………
Wait a second…”
The entire back of the paddle boat was capsizing.
It was a beautiful day on the lake, and my husband decided it would be fun to take out the paddle boat as a family.
I’m always game for a leg workout.
Just a day earlier, my son, Oliver, and husband, Eric, took out that same paddle boat.
Because of the weight distribution, my son’s side wasn’t fully lowered in the water.
But the next day, with my husband on one side, myself on the other, and our little guy in the backseat, both sides were in.
What we didn’t realize is that my side (or my son’s side the day earlier)
Had a HUGE crack under the seat.
(The note from the cottage rental owners read, “Enjoy the paddle boats, kayaks, and canoes!)
I thought it was a little odd that we weren’t moving very far with as much effort as we were putting in, but we kept paddling, determined to make it around the lake.
The more we peddled, the more water our boat took in, without us knowing.
As the water started to fill the back, and it was almost completely underwater, we grabbed our son and hauled him into the front.
He was shaking and crying.
I was shaking on the inside.
It was only a matter of seconds before the whole boat was going under.
It was like we were moving in slow motion.
Without even thinking, I threw off my bathing suit cover and sandals, threw on my life jacket, and jumped in.
I was either towing us back to shore, or if the whole boat sunk, I was taking my toddler in, rescue style.
(Thank you teenage lifeguard years as my first job.)
As soon as I jumped out, the boat levelled above water.
“Stay in the boat with Oliver.”
I grabbed the strings and with the most powerful side stroke,
Towed a 220 pound husband, 50 pound toddler, and I’m guessing about a 150 pound paddle boat with water inside about a half a mile to shore.
“Mommy, you’re so strong.”
“Mommy, THIS IS FUN!”
Little did he know I was flustered, but I KNEW I could make it to shore.
I knew my thick thighs, strong core, and strong swimming skills would not fail me.
I knew my job as a mamma protector bear would come through.
Could my husband have jumped in and done the same? Most likely, yes.
But I knew, without question, I knew I was strong enough to do it,
(And we didn’t have time to decide.)
I’ll never forget the feeling of safety and accomplishment when we hit that shore,
And I swear I’ll never hate on my body again.
All of the criticizing of my lumps and bumps,
The sadness of my tiger stripes some days after having a C-section,
All of it seemed unnecessary and trivial.
My body and mind preformed when it had to.
It saved our family’s life.
We left a kind note to the owners of the cottage rental saying,
“Your paddle boat is broken!”