being a mom

I Used To Judge The Boring Mom At The Pool. Now I Am One

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I periodically wade over to the fountain to cool off. The beads of water turn to rainbows in the sun, and I recognize the beauty of this before some kid splashes me. It’s my kid, expending way more energy on kicking than he needs to, but his determined little face with goggles suctioned over his eyes is lovely to behold, too. He pushes off the bottom again and again in his effort to master swimming. Sometimes he even asks me for advice. I love to watch him launch into a back float, and the way his body and face relax as he settles into buoyancy. A week ago he’d never felt it, and now he understands this indescribable pleasure.

To arrive at this moment, I packed lunch, snacks, thermoses, towels, goggles, diapers, wipes, buckets, shovels, and changes of clothes. I interrupted my older son’s Lego assembly and told him to get dressed, and I captured my younger one and dressed him. I applied sunscreen. I asked my older son to put on his sandals and then help his brother with his. I ran upstairs and donned my swimming costume. When I returned the sandals were on, though the three-year-old’s were on the wrong feet. I thanked them for their compliance. I shouldered my beach bag and the enormous IKEA bag filled with smaller bags and we headed for the car. We drove to the other side of town before I remembered the coffee I’d poured into a travel mug and left on the counter. I’d been looking forward drinking it on the beach, though I’d also wondered how I would carry it. We followed a line of minivans into the parking lot.

I hoisted a bag onto each shoulder and we made our way across the parking lot, showed our passes to the yawning teenager at a picnic table, and headed for the far end of the beach, where the lessons are. My three-year-old doesn’t like the way the sand feels on his bare feet, and he doesn’t like it when the sand gets into his sandals, which it always does, so he stood at the edge of the beach, holding up his arms in the universal sign. I caved immediately. We were cutting it close, as usual, and I told my older son to sprint to his lesson. He did. I lifted my younger son to my hip, where he hung against the bag, pushing the strap deeper into my flesh. Pain shot through my neck, down my shoulder, to my upper back. I walked faster. No way was I putting this stuff down now. We crossed what felt like the Sahara. I dumped everything, including my son, who removed his sandals, picked up his trusty bucket and shovel, and began to dig.

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