The water used to beckon to her like a dangerous toy, twinkling, sparkling, enticingly blue. She would struggle to escape my grasp, drawn inexorably towards that dazzling azure. Her pudgy little fingers wriggled with frustration in the prison of my sweaty palm, desperate to plunge her toddler body in the pool.
Now her fingers reach eagerly for mine as she struggles to conquer the water. Day by day, her confidence grows and she stays afloat a little longer before grasping my body like a lifeboat, wrapping herself around me like an octopus, panting with proud exhaustion. Water cascades down her face, past her glowing smile, as she gasps, “Mommy! Did you see? I’m swimming. I’m really swimming!”
I remember her first wobbly steps, but this conquest of the deep end seems like such a greater accomplishment. The danger of the open water was so much greater than a tumble on the carpeted floor.
Next summer she’ll be racing her brother and sister and flying off the diving board, only coming to me to be tossed into the air, higher and higher, farther and farther with every throw. Her clinging to the safety of my arms will be nothing more than my emotional memory. And so, even as I challenge her to to swim an extra foot, to reach a little further, I file each watery reunion, every wet triumphant hug in my treasure trove of summer memories.