Memorial Day weekend has come and gone, but it brought with it another well-loved holiday: Opening Day at the pool! I have loved the pool- any pool- since I was just a kid myself, but now that I’m a mom, I have all the moreexcuses reason to while away my extra daylight by the edge of a cement pond.
Growing up, I was such a little pool… rat. I spent whole days changing only from pajamas to bathing suit, and back again. My blonde curls had a curiously green cast to them by the first week in July- every year. When the price of pretzel rods at the snack bar rose from a penny to a nickel, I rallied by offering adults 10 cent “deep end” raft tours; I’d hang on to a silvery plastic raft, kicking my little legs furiously to steer, while my client relaxed and took in the wonders of the diving bay. I lived for, by, and about the pool.
In middle school, my mom would drop me off at the pool at 8 am for swim team practice. The water was so cold that early in the day! But, by 11, I’d have changed from my regulation Speedo into my “recreational” suit, ready for whatever the afternoon might bring: maybe I’d meet a new friend, maybe I’d start crushing on some cute guy from another school, or maybe I’d just hear a great new song by Madonna. It mattered little, as long as I had my lemon juice concoction (hair); my patented baby-oil and iodine solution (skin); and enough room to rotate my chair with the movement of the sun across the sky. (I was, not surprisingly, really tan.)
After high school, I moved to the land of the year-round pool: sunny Los Angeles. The house that I lived in had five acres of land around it and the pool out back had a big, tall wall around it. When I wasn’t studying, which was a lot of the time considering that I wasn’t enrolled in school, I’d hang out poolside, flipping through fashion magazines and drinking iced tea. I had a foolproof method to fight tan lines, but I won’t go into that here.
Eventually though, I settled down to start a family and my pool days (just like all my days) changed dramatically. Gone are the bikinis, here to stay are the suits with skirts. Packing a bag to take to the pool takes, like, an hour and I invariably forget someone’s goggles. There’s nothing at the snack bar that costs a nickel- not even a cup of ice! And, well, the only raft tours I give now are to small ungrateful people who won’t even pay me.
Still, even with all the changes, I wouldn’t trade away my family pool days. I’m proud to say that I know the swim team cheer and sing itlouder than my kids. I’m happy that my tanning regimen now includes (a possibly-still-too-low) SPF. I am fine with being the one who pays the million-dollar tab at the concession stand, when all I ever order is the occasional Diet Dr. Pepper! (Okay, so maybe that last thing I would trade.)
I guess I just can’t overstate the power of the pool! I love it, the kids love it and (here’s a little Mommyhood secret for ya) parenting at the pool is way easier than parenting almost anyplace else in the entire world! Once you get past the initial baby pool phase; once you get the kids through swim lessons; and once you’ve ingrained in them the belief that “Mommy doesn’t really get in the pool very often”, you’re golden. It’s almost as if you can be a grown up again; you can read, you can talk to your friend in the next chair, you can nap. It’s a summertime miracle and I hope, this year, it happens for you!
(This blog was originally published on the Charleston Daily Mail’s Mommyhood blog.)