Four months after Maddie was born, I signed Julia up for swim lessons. Well, scratch that; my husband signed her up since registration was on base, and I really didn’t want to haul both kids in the car just to do something that would take him less than five minutes. (It’s crazy how priorities change once you realize how long it’ll take you to do something with both kids in tow).
I gave my husband all the info on the class I wanted her to take, and he did the rest. After he signed her up, he called, said he took care of it, and then asked me if I knew that a parent had to get in the pool with her. He couldn’t see me, but all the blood drained from my face the second I heard him say, “parent…pool…with her.” Crap.
I just had a baby, so slipping on my swimsuit was pretty much the last thing I wanted to do. Swimsuit season is my least favorite to begin with, because I’ve never been comfortable with my body, but add in my new postpartum figure, and just the thought of it was making me freak out.
I immediately started scheming ways I could get out of being the “parent” to get in the pool with her. I figured I had a great case for him being the chosen one:
- He essentially wears “pajamas” to work, so it’d be super easy to just put swim trunks on in the morning and then zip off his flight suit come swim time. I, on the other hand, would have to do a complete wardrobe change, and pack extra clothes to drive to and from the pool.
- His hair is like half a millimeter long, so it would dry in no time. My hair would stay wet the rest of the day—thanks, humidity.
- He could “bond” with Julia and they could have fun together in the pool. I could stay in the air-conditioned car with Maddie. She may need me since I’m her food source and all.
- He could use a tan. I’m half Hispanic, so my tan is good for the summer.
- He didn’t just have a baby three months earlier, and he certainly didn’t care what he looks like in a swimsuit. ‘Nuff said.
I mean, I really thought my last point was all I’d need to get out of being the one to get in the pool. The problem is that I didn’t even get to state my case. We started talking about our plan for the week of swim lessons, and the conversation steered towards his idea. Before I knew it, I was agreeing to everything he said. Essentially, I’d take Maddie over to his work and drop her off there, then I’d do the lessons with Julia, and he’d meet us back at the pool to drop off Maddie. Shoot again; I forgot that work is sort of a big deal. He won.
I fretted the night before her first class, throwing swimsuits around my room, trying to find one that fit and looked decent. I realized I had suits from many, many years (and children) ago that most definitely did not fit anymore, so I immediately tossed them into the ongoing “donate” bag I have in the corner of our room. I finally found one that worked and I actually felt comfortable in, so I set it out with everything else we’d need for the session at the pool. With all the time I spent trying to find a suit that worked, I missed the open window to take a shower and shave my legs. Here’s hoping nobody would notice my hairy legs on top of everything else.
I was way more nervous than Julia was on the first day of swim class. She looked absolutely adorable in her little Minnie Mouse swimsuit, pink water shoes, and hair fashioned like “Abby” From Sesame Street (two pigtails sticking straight out). All she cared about was getting in the pool and playing. How she looked wasn’t even a blip on her radar, but how I looked was still the only thing on my mind.
As soon as I arrived, I started sizing all the other parents up and down, and my worries started disappearing after I noticed something: they were all just like me.
They all had a young child (Julia was in the “baby” class for ages 2 and under), and they were all probably just as insecure about their bodies as I was. Sure, they may not be four months postpartum, but I’m betting they’ve all put their children before themselves in the past few years. I also noticed that parents of the older kids’ classes were off in their own little world—chatting about what they did over the weekend.
There wasn’t one single person sitting there taking the time to point out individuals very vulnerable flaws.
Once I realized that, I was immediately at ease. The instructor called the parents and “babies” into the pool, so seven of us (six moms and one dad) hopped into the pool for the next half hour. And you know what? I didn’t worry about myself for that entire class, because my attention was all on Julia.
We went to six swim classes, and after each session I was proud of myself for getting in the pool with her. Sure, I desperately wished that I looked like a Victoria’s Secret model, but my daughter didn’t care one single bit. What she cared about was that I was in there with her; I absolutely loved the one-on-one time I had with my girl.
During those classes I noticed something else that put me at ease: the other moms in there with their kids were all dressed to their comfort level—some wore bikinis that left their stretch-marked and c-section-scarred tummy exposed, and others wore a cover up in the pool over their suit. Two women wore big hats to keep their hair from getting wet, and a few wore classic one-pieces to cover almost everything up. I wanted to applaud all of them getting over the hurdle of actually putting on their swimsuit that morning, taking off their clothes in public (eeek!), and getting in the pool with their child.
Wearing a swimsuit was certainly the very last thing I wanted to do after just having a baby, but I’m so happy I did it. The time I spent giggling in the pool with my daughter, and having her cling to me because I was her safety net is something I never would’ve experienced if I sat on the sidelines the whole time.
We need to give ourselves more credit. Our bodies come in all shapes and sizes, and we need to embrace them. Luckily, swimsuits come in all shapes and styles, too, so there’s probably one out there that will make you look and feel good about yourself. The best part about swimsuit season, I realized, is that our kids don’t care what we look like. They don’t care that we didn’t shave our legs in the morning, that our cellulite is showing, or that our stretch marks are peeking through our two piece. They care that we got in the pool with them. They care that we were there to catch them when they jumped in, and that we had fun together.
My daughter is growing up at an alarming rate, and soon she won’t want her mama in the pool with her. Before I know it, she’ll be swimming on her own and jumping off the deep end with her friends. So in the meantime, I’ll continue slipping into my swimsuit as often as I can so we play and have fun together.
Do you get in the pool with your kids or do you sit on the side?