I took the kids to the pool by myself this week, and actually managed not to have a heart attack.
This is a big deal for me.
All day, knowing it was going to happen, anxiety rose in the my throat, but I told it, “Back off, bitch. This is what normal people do in the summer.”
Most people have been taking their kids to the pool and the beach for 2 months now. Not me. My stupid anxiety kicks in when I think about bringing my kids near water, especially since I am outnumbered by them and know what it feels like to be a kid who almost drowned.
Then my friend suggested we meet at our gym’s pool after lunch.
I couldn’t avoid it anymore.
I didn’t want to avoid it anymore.
On the way there I drove white-knuckled and tense, running through The Rules with my sun-blocked, bathing-suited kids.
(If I was going to do something totally against my grain, I was going to prepare for it as much as possible in the comfort of my own home.)
I walked the kids right in, we found our friends, and grabbed some chairs.
Then into the water we went.
And it was…nice.
The deepest part of the kid section isn’t too deep for my 7yo to stand on his tippy toes, and there happened to be a dark line in the pool tiles where it would begin to get too deep for my 5yo (who happily wore her big brother’s old Spiderman swimmy bubble vest thingy).
Albino Me was slathered 3 inches deep in SPF, skirt on, hat on, protecting all the bits and pieces that fear sunshine.
My friend and I waded around between our kids, chatting and catching up, as they played and laughed and had splashy fun.
They even handled the 10-minute mandatory breaks at every hour with (mostly) ease.
It was like I was there with someone else’s kids.
Last year, my son clung to me whining whenever his face got so much as a molecule of water on it, while my daughter tried to sprint towards the Deep End of Doom.
It was constant fighting between them, then their running in opposite directions, Time Outs by me, and my voice screeching across the water.
What a difference a year makes.
My kids reminded me that they’re growing up. They can handle things better now. They can enjoy things that were awful for them AND me last time we tried them. They can make experiences I have consistently dreaded, not so terrible anymore.
They reminded me that as they get older, they’re getting more and more fun.
And once I unclench from my anxious stupor, I’m a little more fun, too.
This is a pretty awesome discovery.
So it looks like in addition to my sun block, giant hat, supportive tankini and breezy cover-up, I’ll also be wearing a smile to the pool this summer. A little something extra that I don’t even need to figure out how to fit in into my overstuffed gym bag. Sweet.
Very, very sweet.