Perhaps one of the reasons so many freshmen struggle in college is the physical absence of a mother. Having a special person who loves you unconditionally right there, physically present to keep the machine running properly. I never realized how much behind the scenes stuff went into organizing the life of a swimmer until I had to do it all myself. My typical day wasn’t unlike most other swimmers. Early alarm clock followed by a hot breakfast, then a lunch and three plastic bags of snacks handed to me before sending me off on my day. Back home at 7pm to drop off my wet towels/swimsuits and dinner on the table. Somehow the wet clothes ended up clean, dry and folded at the foot of my bed the next day when the cycle started again. None of these things are glamorous and when you throw in the worrying, advice, dealing with school issues and a full time job to support the show that never seems to end. Throw in surviving in typical small town drama swim club politics which is tougher for the moms of fast kids especially the smaller the town. This was the job description of my mom. Maybe your mom too.
College freshmen year is a tub of ice water dumped on you when you realize those towels never folded themselves and you don’t have the quick kiss and hug when you leave the door telling you how awesome you are. You don’t have someone right there giving you advice navigating the jungle of day to day life of a student and athlete and it’s a tough adjustment when you’re all alone for the first time. This might explain why we gain 15 lbs. during our first year. This might be why consume Tequila once the week is over. Adjustment to college means a huge increase in swimming volume, pressure, homework, discipline but the biggest adjustment for many is not having a mom always there at the beginning and end of the day to let us know everything is going to be alright.
Like many, I never realized how much behind the scenes stuff was involved just getting me out the door in the morning until I was out the door for good. Looking back I wish I had been more appreciative about how much my mom did. I suppose that’s the underlying arrangement, I’ll be sure to love my kids as much as my mom loves me and they’ll pass it on down to the next generation. I think every mom gives as much as they possibly can. When it ends they wish they could have done more.
If you’re a swimmer who has a mom like this please stop what you’re doing right now and give her a big hug….. a longer hug than usual, and let her know how wonderful she is.