I live in Los Angeles where the real summer weather begins about mid-July and can sometimes sizzle well into October. Since I’m a mum, this many months of pool weather is a problem. See, a funny thing happens when my mum friends and I are at the pool. None of us actually gets in the pool! We watch from the sidelines, making sure our kids are safe, while doing anyting to avoid actually getting in the water.
It’s not the water we’re afraid of. It’s the swimmers. We’ll do just about anything, including sitting in the baking sun while watching our husbands and kids cool off in the water, to avoid getting in our damned swimmerss.
I have a pool at my house and I’ve spent years not getting in it. There’s the whole changing into the swimmers hassle. And for goodness sake, why does sunscreen have to take so long to apply? Plus, it’s messy. And then there’s the whole, “People can see my mum bod,” factor — which is probably why most of us, myself included, don’t get in the water.
But this summer, I decided to do things differently. I decided to get in the water. Sure, the role model factor for my daughter weighed heavily on me. I always wonder what lessons she’s getting about her own body image by what I do or don’t do. I don’t want either of my kids to see dad as the fun guy, and mum as the vigilant lifeguard, on duty, and on the ready. Mums are fun, too. But that’s not really why I decided to get in the pool this summer.
I decided to get in the pool because I was hot. Simple, right? I was hot sitting there watching everyone else cool off. And truthfully, I got tired of always being the mum who was taking care of business rather than taking care of herself.
And you know what? It was fun. It was fun to cool off, hang with my kids, and not feel like I was an employee rather than the mum. And truthfully, my highly imperfect body was still just as imperfect. It just wasn’t as hot.
So mums, don’t get in the pool because you’re role modeling for your daughter, because constant role modeling is exhausting. Don’t get in the pool because it’s great exercise because chances are you’re not Michael Phelps, and you’re going to do more wading than swimming. Don’t get in the pool because all that Vitamin D is good for your skin because you can get that same Vitamin D sitting by the pool watching your kids swim. Get in the pool because it’s really frickin’ hot in the summer.
Enjoy the water, don’t worry about how you look in a swimmers, and surrender to wet hair. There’s no way you’re coming out of a pool day with kids without being splashed and possibly dunked. But at least you’ll be cooler, in so many more ways than one.