The other day, I got to thinking about the funny ways we humans have honed our abilities to “make do”. We make do all the time, even sometimes by refusing to settle for what is, though, usually by accepting what we have and working with it as is. When life gives you proverbial lemons, you make lemonade, right?
In parenting we all have to make do. A lot. Whether it is with ourselves and our abilities and our own “stuff”; or with our children, their abilities, and their stuff; or with circumstances outside any of us — we make do like nobody can do. And that may, in fact, be one of the primary blessings of undergoing parenthood. We get intensive training in a skill set which is vital to a healthy, happy life — we are given the opportunity(s) to become zen masters of adaptation.
As I’ve mentioned before, my eldest daughter also lives with her mom and step-dad in a town about 200 miles from us. Now the drive itself has been almost all lemons, despite the opportunity for long periods of contemplation (often in highway silence) and the epic scenery en route, but the truly delicious treat that has been a consistent part of the last 8 years of driving that 200 miles is the relationship we’ve formed with this pool.
We first came to Bozeman Hot Springs, just outside of the town with the same name, when Izabella was still in diapers. Swim diapers. And she was fearless about leaping off the edge of the pool, and into the water, where she would immediately begin to flail and drown. In the months that followed, we returned weekly. Bella learned to wait for me to be ready to catch her, and eventually she also learned to not drown. She eventually taught me to let her jump in without being caught, and to only help her if she wasn’t making it or if she got turned around. I was a slow learner… Within the year — though she was positioned vertically, with just her small, round, smiling face floating on the surface as she slowly moved from place to place — Bella was swimming.
Seven years later, Bozeman Hot Springs is still one of Bella’s favorite places, and her enthusiasm for it, and for swimming in general, has become part of our family’s story. Xideka was an infant when we took her hot spring swimming for the first time. And as is part of their story together, Xi has always wanted to do what she saw her big sister doing, so she jumped right in and started learning to swim as well — though never with quite the level of “wild abandon” that Bella seemed to have near water. Xi was more measured, more tentative in her approach, and intentionally paced herself in the mastery of swimming. And though, she did most of her learning at a different hot spring pool, Bozeman Hot Springs has always been mythic to Xi because of Izabella’s feelings about it.
Xideka doesn’t often make the 200 mile trip to be able to swim at Bozeman Hot Springs, but when taking Bella there this time around, Xi leapt at the opportunity, both to hang with her older sister a little more, and to go swimming at the familially famous pool. Even Echo, who has only made the trip a couple times in her life, and may have only swam at BHS once, still knows about it, and would be excited if I told her we were going there right now — at least until we were in the car for more than 10 minutes…
You could say we got “stuck” with the 200 miles between Bella’s homes. And most of the time it is a sour prospect, let me assure you. But we have made such a good thing out of the Bozeman Hot Springs end of it, that if we miraculously never had to make the trip again, our family would have to come up with another way to get back to that pool. And through what we’ve made of our “lemons”, we’ve all learned and enjoyed things we wouldn’t have otherwise, and we’ve all gotten more opportunities to love each other in the process. And that’s what I call delicious.
Send us your recipes for lemonade, too, if you like. I’m sure we could all use the perspective.
Be well, my fellow lemon-pressers.