On the Fear of Drowning… and Blowing Bubbles Anyway

Mar 19 2014

Today was a Slumped in the Kitchen Corner kind of day, even though I wasn’t in the kitchen.

And an I’m Not Sure I’ll Rise Again kind of day, even though I wasn’t literally down.

And an It’s OK, Go On Without Me; Save Yourselves! kind of day, even though Ohana means Family and Family means No One Gets Left Behind or Forgotten.

But you guys. Guys. Not to be dramatic, but it was the moment in the movie when I’ve got my hand pressed to my gut in a futile attempt to staunch the excessive bleeding, because the tiny hits were just coming from everywhere today, and no matter how fast I dodged, I couldn’t avoid the blast pattern.

The prescription for the new meds for my kid – the first thing that’s made a substantial difference in his ability to function without extreme anxiety in 11 YEARS – costs $270 per month. PER MONTH. Out of pocket. POW!

And another kid’s having surgery next week. ZING!

And the dog – oh dear Jesus, please help me not kill the dog – the dog gifted our floors with decorative footprints using mud and probably poop as his medium. BOOM!

And No, Kids Do NOT Stop Wanting to Sleep in Your Room When They Become Teenagers, and all those people who say they do are lying liars who LIE.

And the 1st graders can’t find their shoes, EVER.

And I can’t find my undies, EVER.

And ALL THE THINGS, you guys. All the Things. 


One minute I was standing and pulling my weight and being a team player and the next minute I was propped against the cupboard watching the blood leak through my fingers, looking up at you, my fellow momrades, wondering what just happened.

You slid down next to me, and you held my hand, but you and I both knew there was nothing we could do, and so, momrades in arms, we stopped, and we made eye contact, and we nodded once, ever-so-slightly to each other in the middle of the fight with blood spatter everywhere, because it was over for today.

We loved each other well, and we did the best we could, but the fight was over for me.

We knew my fate.

Done in. Kaput. Finé.

I just looked at my tag line up at the top of this blog and thought, Optimism, HA! Optimism can BITE ME. But I feel OK about that because I’m not the one who said I was optimistic, anyway; that was one of you, and today we’re just going to assume it was one of you who’s delusional, and I want you to know, that’s fine. Delusional is fine. Delusional is welcome here, always. Delusional is, in fact, AWESOME because it can give someone like me something to shoot for – or shoot at – and right now Optimism has it coming, and Authenticity is just the tool to take that smiling a-hole down.

Also, I might need to adjust my meds

Or get a tiny bit of sleep.

Or read a trashy novel.


Look, I know what to do in situations like this when the days are overwhelming and I’m done. Practice an Attitude of Gratitude. Which makes me want to harf, but I have an Attitude of Gratitude anyway, and I can prove it:

  • I have floors on which my dog can track crap.
  • I live in a place where my kid and I have access to the medications we need, and I can probably even figure out a way to pay for them.
  • I have children who are alive and who have shoes somewhere and who want to sleep close to their mommy even though she loses her undies as often as she loses her poo.

But I just hate it when people say “things could be worse,” even when I’m one of the people who says it, because our ups and our downs and our feelings needn’t be comparative, and because it’s OK – it’s always OK – to long for things to be better. 

The truth is, we’re all drowning sometimes. Underwater and not sure where the next breath is coming from. And there are a lot of people who will tell you that’s the time to sink or swim.

Sink or swim, they say. Like it’s that simple.

Make it or break it.

Succeed or fail.

But life is not sink or swim. It’s just… not.

Life is sink and swim. And sink and swim. And sink. And swim.


My friend, Heather, is afraid of the water. 

Not a tiny bit afraid. 

Like, IMPENDING DEATH afraidTotal panic. Outright terror.

Heather did something this week, though.

She got into the water.

On purpose. 

Because there’s something important about casting off the things that hold us back and hold us down. Something powerful in learning to be free, even in the water that can drown us.

And Heather was scared. Which you can see in her pictures. 


Like, not-messing-around SCARED scared. This was hard for her. 


But she had a goal, which was neither to sink nor swim, but just to breathe. For now, to breathe.

Breathe in with her head above water.

Breathe out with her head below it.

Blow some bubbles.

And breathe.

Why are we so afraid of drowning? Probably because the water can kill us and we’re not stupid.

Why do we even enter the water, then? Because there’s magic there. In the sinking. In the swimming. And in, simply, learning to breathe.

Friends, I don’t know how your day was. I don’t know if you skipped through your day, whistling at the sunshine and hugging puppies, or if you, like me, were fighting for breath for whatever reason.

The truth is, we’re all drowning and none of us is getting out of this life alive, but we’re here, in the water, on purpose anyway. Sinking and swimming and sinking and swimming and sinking and swimming and learning to breathe.

And we are, all of us, very, VERY brave. 


HeatherEspana4P.S. All photos credits to Heather España. Photos used with permission.

P.P.S. Heather España is the artistic genius behind Puttering. Check out her modern miniatures work on Etsy and on Facebook. She’s amazing.

P.P.P.S. Heather’s not affiliated with this blog, didn’t pay me to promote her work, blah, blah, blah. She doesn’t know I’m putting that plug there. I just love Heather, I think you will, too, and I’m very, very glad she allowed me to publish her photos and story. I only had to beg a little. 

P.P.P.P.S. For those of you joining me for 40 Days of Lent: 15 Minute Projects, you can find today’s project – sort of – here on the 5 Kids Facebook page. I promised you photos. I’ll post them eventually. This story felt more important than that one today.