My girls have been begging me to take them back to the pool. After all, they have only been swimming a couple of times this summer, which seems kind of silly considering that we belong to the pool in the adjoining neighborhood, which is not more than a mile from our house. I’d been telling them “not tonight” for too many nights in a row, telling myself and them that I was too tired after our very busy day.
Yesterday morning I decided I had put it off long enough. I knew I was likely to decide I didn’t want to go if we waited until the evening, which is generally our preferred time to swim. So I planned to surprise them with an afternoon pool excursion, as soon as the workman was done fixing our audio issues with our tv. In the meantime, we practiced baton, rode bikes, and generally had a fun morning/early afternoon.
A little after 2:00, the repairman finished up. The kids and I were still outside riding bikes (well, they were riding; I was supervising :)). I suggested we go inside because I had another idea of something we could do. They had lots of questions, but did as I asked. When we got inside, I told them I had something I wanted them to do for me. They seemed to get a little suspicious that I was going to assign them a chore, but they played along and asked what. I asked them to please go upstairs, put on their bathing suits, and grab their beach towels.
Well, I’ll tell you, those girls were over the moon excited. They asked me if I was serious, then ran upstairs to get ready. I was happy, too, just seeing them so happy.
That is until I started to get ready. Then I got all kinds of grumpy. I actually hate going to the pool. I hate putting on a bathing suit that makes me feel like an elephant, and exposed at the same time — two very confidence-shaking feelings. I hate that the water washes off the make-up I use to enhance my otherwise thin/sparse eyebrows. I hate that I will look my worst when we meet new people, which was one of the reasons for joining this pool in the first place (meeting people).
So I got ready for the pool, but I wasn’t happy about it. I tried to remind myself that the last time we went, I was dreading it just as much, but once we got there, I had so much fun. The water was so relaxing and playing around with my girls was heavenly. Yeah, but it won’t be today, I thought. It will be much more crowded in the afternoon. It will be hotter. Etc. etc.
Despite my lack of enthusiasm, we gathered up our bag of towels and snacks and headed to the pool. I felt very self-conscious as I walked across the pool deck to get in the water with Sapphire, while Emerald headed to jump off the diving board. Then I got in the water and all that floated away. I forgot how much I hated this whole thing and how bad I felt I looked. I played with my little Sapphire, then with Emerald when she joined us.
Emerald also made me one proud mama (as both of my girls usually do). So far, we have met a few kids Sapphire’s age here in our neighborhood, but we haven’t met anyone Emerald’s age, so she has been longing to make some friends. At the pool yesterday, we noticed a girl who appeared to be close to her age pass by us and smile at Emerald. I suggested my shy girl say “hello”. She did and the other girl said “hello”, but that was it. Later, after the girl had passed by us a few more times, always with a smile in Emerald’s direction, I asked Emerald if she wanted to go over and tell the girl her name and that we had just moved here this summer. She seemed interested, but hesitated. I explained to her that if someone smiles at you every time she looks your way, she’s likely to be friendly if you speak to her. That did it; she approached the girl and introduced herself.
From then until the swim break (or adult swim, as they call it at this pool) I only saw Emerald from across the pool. She chatted with that little girl and her friend, both of whom turned out to be 8 years old. And she had a smile on her face a mile wide. There was no touch of shyness visible. My little girl is growing up.
We spent the rest of the afternoon having a great and relaxing time at the pool. Since I was cooking dinner in the crock pot, we were in no rush to get home. Jim joined us after work and we whittled away the rest of the day, as one should on a lazy, end of summer day.
You may be wondering if I learned anything from this experience. Yes and probably not. I’m sure I’ll dread the next pool day for the very same reasons. But next time, I’ll try harder to remember just how much fun it is actually being there and how all the anxiety washes away the minute I step into that water, AND that I am building happy memories with my precious girls. And if I can’t convince myself, I have this post to remind me.
Happy end of summer to you all.