Monday, January 25, 2010

Being a Mother

I was not looking forward to today, because it looked messy on my calendar. Mainly the one hour block between swim lessons and leaving to teach tonight. Wasn't sure how that would go.

But then I did some soul-searching and realized I was actually just dreading the swimming lessons. Half-hour with Andrew, and then a half hour for Jack. And Simone (who doesn't sit on my lap) had to sit on my lap. They're private lessons, which sounds woefully Suburban Yuppie Mom...but actually it was the result of careful cost-benefit analysis and realizing that it was the quickest way to get them swimming independently.

I hated swimming lessons as a child. I now sense it might have been the chlorine, as I hate chlorine. Stings my eyes, burns my skin, and smells nasty. My Childhood SB swore I'd never put my kids in swimming lessons, even if it did mean McDonald's afterwards. So Steve and I have just done swimming lessons with the kids in the hotel pools...but we have two very different swimmers, and neither seemed suited to parental instruction.

Jack: Loves swimming, but screams bloody murder if there's water in his eyes. Refuses flatly to have any water on his face. Showers with him sound like child abuse.

Andrew: Was possibly a Mer-man in another life. Waterbirth baby, takes baths several times a day (we just keep the water in the tub, because he doesn't care if it's cold), and will jump into the pool head-first (any depth) if you don't stop him. He's magnetically attracted to water. See earlier post about his dream to marry a mermaid. I believe him. He could dog-paddle and stay afloat without instruction, but his glee for the water overwhelms him so much that he can't pay attention to real instructions about real swimming.

In the words of the private instructor today: "So we need to build Jack's enthusiasm about the water, and raise Andrew's respect for the water." Yup.

Anyway, it was a bit of a pain in butt...because Simone is a head-first diver too, and we had to sit for an hour 5 feet from the pool's edge. She stayed in the back carrier part of the time, but the rest was a bit annoying. Okay, it was super annoying.

But. There was this moment when she was (actually) sitting on my lap on the bench, and I was looking over at Jack in the pool...laughing away, clutching the noodle.

And I was struck by what it meant to be someone's mom. It's been 25 years (maybe more) since I was involved in swimming lessons, and that's when I was the reluctantly dragged child. Now here I was, being The Person bringing a little one to swimming lessons. How quaintly Mother of me.

To be someone's Mom involves caring for all these tiny portions of another person's life that adds up to major responsibility. A bit like what I babbled about the other day. I'm in charge of their teeth. Their food. Making sure they don't drown. That they learn basic academics. Say please and thank you. Go out in public basically dressed, even if their shirt is backwards and they're wearing 2 different shoes (which is Andrew *most* days).

Sheesh.

It's funny, though: There was not a single moment in the Waiting-With-Simone poolside observation that was pleasant, but it felt really good to be doing it. Being a responsible parent, having my child officially learn how to swim.

And then coming home to a super-healthy-yummy dinner in the crockpot that the kids devoured. THAT felt good. Before I had children, I had no idea how good it would feel to feed persons I love. I think that's my thing. Feeding people. Weird, I know. And to have three little dudes gobble up an experimental bean soup and ask for more? Priceless.

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